Free breast cancer and cervical cancer screenings

Published: Nov. 15, 2014 at 1:14 AM CST|Updated: Nov. 15, 2014 at 2:35 AM CST
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Amarillo, TX - More access to breast cancer screenings will now be available to the 26 counties in the Texas panhandle.

The Breast Center of Excellence at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in Amarillo reports in Texas only 13% of girls have at least one HPV shot and in the panhandle that number is even less, leaving our area with the highest mortality rate in cervical cancer.

"These are the women that have these little girls, children, you know other cousins and family members since we build these partnerships, we should leverage that to cover the cervical piece," says Rakhshanda Rahman, Director of Breast Center of Excellence.

Children can start receiving their HPV shots at the age of 9. And The Breast Center of Excellence says those shots are not just for girls.

"Now boys don't have cervices and therefore they don't get cervical cancer but boys can transmit HPV viruses to their partners when they grow older and so we still have to break the chain of transfer of HPV virus," says Rahman.

The funding for these services comes from a 3 year grant. Part of the goal is to give 1,400 HPV shots by the first year.

Director of the Breast Center says by offering these screenings they hope to encourage more mothers to allow their pre-teens get the shot. "If I had a choice, I would want every person that comes in contact with another teenager to ask a question, did you get your shot? Because if you look at the map that I will show you in (Saturdays) meeting, it is appalling that the panhandle is red and it sticks out like a sore thumb, the entire Texas area because we are really doing worse in cervical cancer and theirs no reason to," says Rahman.

The 1.5 million dollar grant will allow the program to expand by offering cervical cancer screenings and prevention services including free pap-smears and HPV vaccinations to uninsured or under-insured patients.