EL PASO, TX (KTSM) – The American Breast Cancer Foundation is helping Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC) El Paso with a $7,500 grant for breast cancer screenings at the Foster School of Medicine’s Medical Student Run Clinic (MSRC).

The MSRC provides diagnostic, preventive and educational care to residents in Sparks, Texas, just outside El Paso city limits.

Communities like Sparks lack basic infrastructure due to socioeconomic factors, and residents often go without basic public transportation, adequate health care, and in some cases, electricity and running water.

Receiving a grant like this opens up access to a population that’s underserved. We don’t ever want to find anyone with breast cancer, but we do want to help them get treatment if they have it and save lives with early detection.

Maureen Francis, M.D., FACP, asst. dean for medical education, Paul Foster School of Medicine

According to the American Cancer Society, about 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer, and about 1 in 36 women will die from breast cancer. In El Paso County, 105.2 of every 100,000 women were diagnosed with breast cancer from 2014 to 2018, according to the National Cancer Institute.

Since 1990, breast cancer death rates have declined progressively due to advancements in detection and treatments. But in the U.S., women who live in poverty and those who live in rural areas are at increased risk of late-stage diagnosis. 

With help from Desert Imaging’s state-of-the-art Mammos on the Move mobile mammography bus, students at the MSRC are decreasing the number of women diagnosed with late-stage breast cancer, the leading cause of cancer death among women in the U.S., while bridging the gap between a basic service and transportation barriers.

“The MSRC provides in-person experiences for our students,” Dr. Francis said. “They’re helping these patients overcome barriers, something that’s a very important part of their education.”

With the American Breast Cancer Foundation grant, approximately 50 women will receive bilingual breast health education and mammograms, as well as follow-up diagnostic testing, including diagnostic mammograms and ultrasounds.

We’re committed to continuing this vital health care service for the early detection of breast cancer. This service effort is not only needed, but it’s fundamental to reducing persistent health disparities present in our Borderland community.

Nohemi Lopez Valdez, student, Paul Foster School of Medicine

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