National Breast Cancer Foundation Awards $10,000 Grant for Life-Saving Screenings for TTUHSC El Paso’s Medical Student Run Clinic

The National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF) is helping Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso continue meeting the needs of underserved Borderplex residents with a $10,000 grant for breast cancer screenings administered by the Foster School of Medicine’s Medical Student Run Clinic (MSRC) and its Mobile Care Unit.

The clinic, located just outside El Paso city limits in the Sparks colonia, provides diagnostic, preventive and educational care to area residents. Located far from El Paso’s urban center, colonias are underserved neighborhoods that often lack necessities such as paved roads, public transportation, or clean running water. Residents of these colonias typically have poor access to health care services, however the MSRC’s Mobile Care Unit has increased access through services that range from blood pressure, glucose and lipid checks to life-saving screenings.

Through the MSRC, student volunteers and TTUHSC El Paso faculty engage with residents from Sparks and nearby colonias and empower them to take charge of their health.

“The volunteers at the Medical Student Run Clinic and the clinic’s Mobile Care Unit are committed to addressing the health care needs of our community and breaking down barriers related to access, cost and transportation that often deter patients from getting the care they need,” said Maureen Francis, M.D., FACP, assistant dean for medical education at the Foster School of Medicine and medical director of the Medical Student Run Clinic. “Funding from the NBCF makes it possible for women in underserved communities of El Paso County to receive the critical breast health services they couldn’t otherwise afford. Breast cancer screening saves lives, and we sincerely appreciate the generosity of the NBCF.”

The $10,000 NBCF grant will provide approximately 50 screenings, five diagnostic mammograms, and eight ultrasounds for a total of 63 procedures. To date, NBCF funding has provided 183 screenings from $30,000 received prior to this new grant. The screenings help detect breast tumors or abnormalities to catch cancer in its early stages.

According to the American Cancer Society, about 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer, and about 1 in 36 will die from breast cancer. Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer mortality in women, but it’s the primary cause of cancer death among Hispanic women, according to the National Cancer Institute.

El Paso County has a breast cancer incidence rate of 106 cases per 100,000 women, which is lower than Texas’ overall rate of 113 per 100,000 women. However, El Paso County’s breast cancer incidence rate has trended upward over the past decade, according to NCI statistics tracked by Healthy Paso del Norte.

A significant number of breast cancer cases in Hispanic women are triple-negative breast cancers, so named because they test negative for two hormone receptors and a protein that affect the growth of cancer cells.

Triple-negative breast cancer is fast-spreading and often does not respond well to chemotherapy used for other types of invasive breast cancers.

Since 1990, breast cancer death rates have declined due to advancements in detection and treatment. But in the U.S., women who live in poverty and those who live in rural areas are at increased risk of late-stage diagnosis.