Breaking Down Barriers to Early Breast Cancer Detection & Screening
Has someone in your life been impacted by breast cancer? Too often, the answer to that question is “yes.” In fact, the American Cancer Society (ACS) estimates that over 290,000 people will be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2022. This means that 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer, the second leading cause of cancer death in women.
But there is good news. Studies such as this one from ACS show that early detection of breast cancer dramatically increases survival rates.
Yet without access to healthcare, early detection of breast cancer is incredibly challenging. Transportation can pose a significant barrier to women getting necessary screening, causing delayed diagnoses.
In 2019, The Brem Foundation partnered with Lyft Healthcare to provide access to reliable transportation for breast cancer appointments. Together, we launched Wheels for Women—the country's first and only free transportation program dedicated exclusively to breast cancer screenings and diagnostics.
During Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we are pleased to announce that Wheels for Women has hit the significant milestone of providing 1,000 rides to women in need.
Social determinants of health—including economic, political and environmental factors—have long created barriers to accessing care. Nearly 6 million people across the country miss or delay medical care because they lack safe, accessible, reliable transportation. Patients who report transportation access problems are 2.5 times more likely to have costly emergency department visits. Communities of color are disproportionately impacted; 55% of Black and 60% of Latinx cancer patients cite faulty public transportation as a major barrier to treatment.
“Transportation is not only a driver of health–it’s a conduit to accessing broader social needs,” said Buck Poropatich, Head of Lyft Healthcare. “Whether it’s first or last mile, we’re striving to close transportation gaps in order to promote overall health outcomes.”
Patients who utilize the program include uninsured or Medicare recipients living close to the poverty line, and in many cases, face significant language barriers. Launched with three local medical partners, the program is now an active part of the cancer screening community, working with 14 medical provider partners throughout the D.C. Metro Area and Baltimore.
“We started this program in Washington, D.C. which regularly has the highest or one of the highest death rates from breast cancer in the country. But Wheels is extremely scalable, with a turnkey model that can be replicated in markets all over the country,” said Clare Dougherty, CEO of the Brem Foundation. “We’re excited that we’ve provided [access to] over 1,000 rides so far, but there is so much work to do. We look forward to using Lyft to break down access barriers, detect cancers earlier and save women’s lives.”
To learn more about The Brem Foundation, please visit their website here.