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Breast cancer screening comes to "the never-served"

A mobile mammography unit has arrived in Buffalo to offer breast screening to underserved and undertested women.

Erie County Medical Center Lifeline Foundation, First Niagara Financial Group and the Buffalo Sabres Alumni collaborated to purchase the 45-foot, pink bus. It was unveiled Wednesday morning inside First Niagara Center.

The bus includes two digital mammography machines and dressing rooms.   It will be operated by Western New York Breast Health, directed by Dr.  Vivian Lindfield. 

"As a breast surgeon, I'm typically getting that patient after something has been found," said Dr. Lindfield. "That first step is missing for a lot of patients.  This is even women with insurance who have jobs, but are busy. That mammogram is kind of their last thought."

Women will need to make appointments.  The bus will travel into the inner-city as well as the rural areas.   Western New York had the highest rate of new breast cancer in Upstate New York, according to a 2010 report.

Buffalo Sabres Alumni president Larry Playfair worked closely with the partners to make the bus a reality after learning that many women are not getting tested for breast cancer.

"Not only in the city, but in the rural communities had a tough time getting breast cancer care. They were single parents raising children and they couldn't take time off from work to get examined.  They just put it off to the side," said Playfair.

“This is a great community program that will actually save lives and the ECMC Lifeline Foundation is thrilled to be a partner in,” said Jody L. Lomeo, ECMC’s CEO and Foundation Board Member. “We hardly finished our presentation when the Sabres alumni and First Niagara said ‘yes’ and stepped up to fund this. We all know someone touched by breast cancer and we all want to see earlier diagnosis and treatment.”

“We say the bus is for the underserved. It is really for the never-served,” said John Koelmel, president and CEO of First Niagara. “We all know that the key to surviving any cancer, but especially breast cancer, is early detection and treatment. What better way to provide this care than by saying, ‘You can’t get to us?’ ‘Then we’ll come to you.’