Celebrating Cancer Control Month – Every Month
LSU Health Shreveport’s Partners In Wellness Mobile Screening Program
Everyone agrees that early detection and prevention are key in cancer survival. Getting screened on the recommended schedule gives one the best opportunity to find cancer at its smallest state. The earlier cancer is found, the better one’s chances are for treatment and survival.
According to the American Cancer Society, Louisiana will have an estimated 28,580 new cancer cases this year. Our state also has a 484-incidence rate, meaning 484 people out of 100,000 have cancer in Louisiana, which is higher than the national rate of 449. More specific statistics showed that Louisiana had 3,716 reported new cases of breast cancers and about 667 deaths due to breast cancer in 2019.
There were 2,564 new cases of colon and rectal cancers reported in that same year, with 875 deaths. We also have one of the country’s highest cervical cancer death rates. Many of these deaths could be prevented with routine screenings, and that’s why Partners In Wellness was created for our community.
Partners In Wellness (PIW), a cancer screening program, was started in 1999 by the LSU Health Shreveport Feist-Weiller Cancer Center. This program aims to reduce the burden of cancer in Louisiana through early detection and preventive education. Currently, Partners in Wellness offers cancer screenings for breast (mammogram), cervical (HPV/Pap test), prostate (prostate-specific antigen test), and colorectal (Cologuard) cancers, as well as cardiovascular screening. Partners in Wellness can reach rural and medically underserved communities in North Louisiana with its two mobile screening vans that provide these screenings free of charge. The program also actively enrolls patients in two research studies at our mobile clinics.
The “prevalence and risk factors of HPV infection among women attending a Cervical Cancer Screening Mobile Unit” study aims to identify the prevalence of HPV, types of HPV and risk factors associated with HPV infection in remote areas in North Louisiana. In addition, the study will describe the beliefs and knowledge about HPV infection and HPV vaccination, evaluate the efficiency of the myLABBox HPV test in detecting HPV in women and evaluate the self-testing performance as a primary screening method in remote areas in North Louisiana.
Another research study offered by Partners in Wellness is TMIST (Tomosynthesis Mammographic Imaging Screening Trial).
This study will help researchers understand the best way to find breast cancer in women with no symptoms. A randomized breast cancer screening study compares standard digital mammograms (2-D) and tomosynthesis mammograms (3-D). The study aims to compare whether women screened with tomosynthesis mammography have fewer advanced breast cancers than women screened digitally, and the difference in additional tests recommended post-screening.
Partners in Wellness has partnerships with the Rapides Foundation, Louisiana Breast and Cervical Health Program, Louisiana Cancer Foundation and MLK Health Center and Pharmacy, from which grant monies are received to cover screenings for uninsured and underinsured populations. The program’s mobile unit partners with rural clinics, federally qualified health centers and health units throughout north and central Louisiana to go to medically underserved communities and screen their patients when it is challenging to get to a brick-and-mortar clinic. Businesses and corporations may also have the Partners in Wellness van come directly to screen their employees on-site.
The Partners in Wellness mobile clinic is scheduled to go out three to four times a week with monthly and quarterly recurrent clinics throughout the year. It currently travels to 23 parishes in North Louisiana to screen patients. The program has screened over 25,000 patients since implementation and continues to explore new ways to broaden its outreach and partnerships. The services provided are free of charge, regardless of insurance status.
Mammograms are performed on women ages 40-64 if uninsured and any age for insured patients.
HPV screenings are performed on women ages 29-64.
Cologuard screenings are for individuals ages 45 and over.
Prostate cancer screenings are performed for men ages 50 and over.
If you need information on setting up a clinic or need an appointment, you can reach the Partners in Wellness office locally at 318- 813-4020 and toll-free at 800-582-4523.
Towanno Alexander, RT, is the project manager for Partners In Wellness at LSU Health Shreveport.