UAMS Mammogram Campaign to Focus on Women With Disabilities

By David Robinson

“The Right to Know Campaign for Women with Disabilities” kicks off with a free event Oct. 24 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel at 201 S. Shackleford in Little Rock for women with disabilities and mammogram technicians.

The day will begin at with training for mammography technicians that’s designed to help improve access to mammography for women with physical disabilities.

Women with disabilities are invited to attend a free luncheon with the technicians, followed by the “It’s All About Me” pampering party, which will include expert-guided activities such as massage, yoga, crafts, skin care, makeup and other stress relief activities. Space is limited, and reservations may be made by calling Judy Young at (501) 682-9900.

The effort to raise breast cancer awareness among women with disabilities stems from evidence that they are more likely to have breast cancer and are at much higher risk of dying from breast cancer than women without disabilities.

Arkansas Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System data from 2005 showed that the incidence of breast cancer was twice as high for women with severe disabilities. A study released in 2006 by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, a teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School, also found that women with disabilities had a 29 percent higher risk of dying from breast cancer.

The reasons vary, but the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found that women with physical disabilities are less likely to get regular mammogram screenings, which are the best way to detect breast cancer early and to increase the odds of a cure.

“Women with physical disabilities aren’t getting their mammograms regularly, and the research does not specifically address why, but we can see that the extra cost such as transportation and caregiver services as well as negative past experiences are contributing factors,” said Young, of the Arkansas Disability and Health Program, located within Partners for Inclusive Communities and funded by the CDC.

“Having technicians who understand the unique physical needs such as bolstering and adapted positioning as well as overall disability etiquette is essential to improving the mammography experience,” Young said.

As many as 90 mammogram technicians are expected to participate in the Oct. 24 training, which will be provided by Breast Health Access for Women with Disabilities out of California.

Susan G. Komen Foundation Arkansas affiliate, and Arkansas BreastCare have provided support and guidance for the awareness campaign and are co-sponsoring the pampering party.
As part of the campaign, Young said mammogram clinics across the state are being surveyed for access by staff and women with disabilities.

“If we are going to encourage women to get their mammograms, then we’ve got to make sure staff understand how to most effectively serve them, and that clinics are accessible,” Young said. “A resource guide will be posted on our Web site,” 

UAMS is the state’s only comprehensive academic health center, with five colleges, a graduate school, a new 540,000-square-foot hospital, six centers of excellence and a statewide network of regional centers. UAMS has 2,652 students and 733 medical residents. Its centers of excellence include the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, the Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, the Myeloma Institute for Research and Therapy, the Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, the Psychiatric Research Institute and the Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging. It is the state’s largest public employer with more than 10,000 employees, including nearly 1,150 physicians who provide medical care to patients at UAMS, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, the VA Medical Center and UAMS’ Area Health Education Centers throughout the state. Visit or