Free Breast Cancer Screening Study underway for high risk group in CT

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — A study in our state is underway offering free breast cancer screenings for young African-American women. It comes on the heels of an American Cancer Society report that more black women are getting breast cancer, a population already facing a higher mortality rate compared to white women.

Different groups of ethnicities have their own risks for certain cancers. Young African-American women tend to have a higher incidence of breast cancer and a more aggressive form.

There was a captive audience at the New Haven Adult Education Center for breast cancer specialist Dr. Kristen Zarfos — from the Cancer Institute at The Hospital of Central Connecticut.

Dr. Zarfos is looking for African-American women — 25 to 39 years old — to take part in a free breast cancer screening study.

“I wanted our students to be aware about screenings, and really start taking charge of their own health and to have this opportunity is very important, especially to this population who normally don’t get a chance to see a doctor regularly,” Glen Worthy, Principal of the Adult Education Center, said.

The principal investigator is trying to determine if an ultrasound can catch breast cancer earlier in a population — at a higher risk of advanced breast cancer.

“We know screening ultrasounds have been found in studies to be very good with women with dense breasts.”

Younger women tend to have dense breasts.

And one third of African American women with breast cancer are under the age of thirty.

But as Dr. Zarfos points out — screening does not start until the age of 40 — with new guidelines at 45. “This study is about giving young African-American women an opportunity to have a free screening study. A free screening ultrasound that might find cancers that are too small to feel or before they present with pain.”

Janae Jones is participating in the five year pilot study. “It definitely want to make you be proactive rather than reactive. I was having breast pain and my grandmother is a breast cancer survivor and I wanted to make sure there wasn’t anything wrong with me,” Jones said.

Janae’s grandmother, Geri Cotton, a two-time breast cancer survivor, encouraged her to sign up. “I want women to know they can go for this study and they can walk out with a piece of mind. I want them to know if they walk in and they have a positive outcome — that they are getting treated early because the earlier you get treated the better your outcome.”

The research study is looking for African-American descent with and without a family history of breast and/or ovarian cancer, between the ages of 25 to 39 are eligible to participate.

Participants will have a breast exam, learn how to do a breast self-exam and have a free breast ultrasound. Participants will be followed up every year for five years.

Each will receive a $25 CVS gift card and a transportation credit from Uber for up to $20.

If interested or have questions, please call 860-696-4818.

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