Many African American women are not getting cancer screenings

NEWS >> HEALTH >> Mammogram

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) – When you hear the reminders to get your mammogram are you motivated to do it or do you put it off?

A large number of women not only put it off, they’re never screened and it’s having devastating consequences.

A doctor at the Massey Cancer Center is leading a study called Project REEL to find out how to better talk to women about breast and colon cancer screening in hopes of saving lives.

We hear a variety of messages on the radio. Some entertaining. Some serious.

Which ones do you remember most?

How a group of women answer that question could change the way we talk about cancer screening.

They gathered at 6th Baptist Church on a Saturday morning to participate in a study that seeks to find out why many African American women over age 50 are not getting screened for breast and colon cancer despite more than decade of awareness information.

Carolyn Ware says a lot of women are scared to go to the doctor because they’re afraid of what they might find.

The women say they’re here to help because they know the stakes are high.

Loretta Wright says a lot of people are dying because by the time they found out it was too late.

Massey researcher Dr. May Kennedy calls them preventable deaths.

Dr. Kennedy says it’s just unacceptable that the messages are not getting through to African American women.

She says there are a number of reasons why, and she’s working on a solution.

Dr. Kennedy says we’re trying to fix the messages. There’s lots of reasons why women don’t get screened, one is that our message needs to be improved.

Dr. Kennedy is using an approach called Entertainment Education, which embeds health information in various entertainment formats.

Breast survivor Annie Coleman helped her recruit more than 300 women from Petersburg and Richmond to listen to five test pieces.

The most effective one will be aired on radio stations around the country.

Coleman says when she recruits women for the study she tells them that this is an educational, fun way to get the message out.

Coleman, Dr. Kennedy, and the women in the focus groups hope it does that and more importantly motivates African American women to get screened.

Dr. Kennedy’s is pursuing additional funding from the National Institutes of Health to expand her study to the top 20 African American media markets around the country.

She’s recruiting more women in our area. If you would like more information, contact Diane Bishop at 804-628-2508.

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