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Free Mammograms At Mobile Screening Site In West Philadelphia As Pandemic Causes Cancer Screenings To Drop Dramatically

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Free and easy mammograms will be available at a mobile screening site in West Philadelphia for the next two weeks. New research shows the pandemic has caused cancer screenings to drop dramatically. Penn Medicine is hoping to reverse that dangerous trend.

The pandemic has altered a lot of Wendy Palmer's life, including taking care of her health.

"I do it every year," she said of mammograms.

But not for the last three years. The 57-year-old didn't get screened because she was fearful of getting and spreading COVID to her at-risk family members.

"With my daughter being asthmatic or having asthmatic tendencies and my father, I was taking care of my father at the time as well," Palmer said.

She's among millions who have skipped routine screenings because of the pandemic and there are indications that could increase some cancer rates.

"Screening saves lives. Screening lets us treat diseases when it's kind of contained and when we can maintain quality of life," said Dr. Linda Nunes with Penn Medicine.

Dr. Nunes says that's why Penn Medicine opened a temporary mobile screening unit in West Philadelphia.

"This ability for people to get screened right in their community, where they feel comfortable, where it's easy for them to access it," Nunes said.

She's especially concerned for Black women, who have higher rates of breast cancer and less access to screenings and treatments.

"It's just an opportunity to make up for all that disparity and we're really happy to have the opportunity," Nunes said.

The mobile screenings, which are free, use the same technology found in mammography centers.

"I love it. I love it. When I heard it -- heard about it, I ran right over. I think it's a great service to the community," Palmer said.

The mammograms are available on weekdays to women over the age of 40. No insurance is required and walk-ins are welcome.

The mobile unit will be at the Promise Academy on Cedar Avenue until June 24. The phone number for people to call is 267-414-2205.

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