Because a long, full life doesn't just happen, according to the poster for the upcoming event, the UND Center for Family Medicine is hosting breast and cervical cancer screenings during three sessions in October for the insured and uninsured.
There will be three sessions of screenings, held on Oct. 16, 23 and 30, from 4 to 6 p.m. at the UND Center for Family Medicine, 1201-11th Ave. SW. Dr. Kwanza Devlin, associate director for the residency program and family medical doctor at the UND Center for Family Medicine, said they figured having the screenings in the late afternoon would give people time to come in and that more people would be able to come.
The screenings are open to both the insured and uninsured. For people with insurance, the clinic will send the bill to the person's insurance company, said Devlin. For those who are uninsured, there will be a representative from Women's Way for people to see if they qualify for that program. People who don't qualify for the Women's Way program will be charged $200 by the clinic.
Dr. Kwanza Devlin, associate director for the residency program and family medical doctor at the UND Center for Family Medicine, talks with a member of the staff informing her of the importance of getting screened for breast and cervical cancer.
"We didn't want to restrict this to any particular group. Anybody is welcome," Devlin said.
Coming in for a screening will be very similar to an office visit, said Devlin. The physician will take the person's vital signs and record their medical history, paying attention to any risks the person may have. Then the physician will give the person a breast and pelvic exam and a pap smear. If anything cancerous is found, a follow-up visit may be asked for, Devlin explained, and the person will be contacted after the results come in.
Devlin said it would take anywhere from a half-hour to an hour for the cancer screening visit. There won't be child care available at the clinic, but the doctors and nurses will make it work if an individual brings a child. It's preferred that people make an appointment for one of the three sessions offered, but people can also walk in on those days, Devlin added. Results from the screening take a week to come back.
The breast and cervical cancer screening event is for women age 21 or older who are in the Minot community and in need of cancer screening.
"If you have breasts or a cervix, come on in," Devlin said. The best time to start screening for cervical cancer is at age 21, she noted, and doctors are able to detect pre-cancer states and can treat it before it becomes cancer.
The idea for the cancer screening event belongs to Devlin, though it's not an original idea, she said. While she was in residency, the hospital did something called a "Pap-A-Thon" event where people just came in for pelvic exams, and it became well-known in the community. Devlin thought they should try something similar to that here in Minot. October was chosen because it's national cervical cancer awareness month. She would like for this to become an annual event, she said, and would love it if every woman in the community would be up to date on their breast and cervical cancer screenings.
"We're trying to reach people who haven't been screened," Devlin said. "I'd love it if we could say that in Minot, we take care of our women."
Depending on the response that the cancer screening receives, this event might be offered more than once a year.
"If more people call in, we may consider doing it again, but probably annually," Devlin said. "We also hope that each year it would become more extensive and have an eight- to 12-hour day of exams."
The most difficult part about getting people to come in for a cancer screening, Devlin noted, is in people finding the time since everyone is so busy.
"It's hard to carve out time to make health a priority" she said. The second most difficult part has to do with the cost. With this cancer screening event, Devlin said she wanted people to be aware of the Women's Way program.
"There are options for people," she said. "And we're willing to work with people because health care is so important. Cost should not be a barrier."
Devlin said people are more afraid of the exam than of finding out that they might have cancer. There's not as much fear in knowing they have cancer because there's a lot that can be done to treat it before it becomes cancer, she noted, and that helps decrease the fear of knowing.
"We're really patient with our patients, though, and we do what we can to make them comfortable," Devlin said, if someone is feeling extra apprehensive about the exam.
The main reason that people should consider getting screened for cancer at this upcoming event is because the doctors can do something.
"There are things we can do to treat cancer early," Devlin said. "We can find a pre-cancerous lesion on a cervix and that person can go on and live a life without having cervical cancer. We catch it and treat it and in the end you can live a long and healthy life because you came in for a half-hour to make sure everything is okay."