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Inclusivity for Mammography Screening: An Advocate Takes on Creating More Accessible Screenings
Lene Andersen is creating awareness surrounding the lack of accessibility when it comes to mammography screenings. Andersen is speaking out after her experience of struggling in accessing mammograms while being a wheelchair user. Andersen has rheumatoid arthritis and relies on a power wheelchair for mobility (Andersen and Batchelor, 2023). She detailed in her story that she had felt a lump in her breast but was unable to receive an accessible mammogram. She recounts that “due to the lack of accessible equipment and procedures,” she was not able to have a mammogram (Elsevier, 2023). Due to the restrictive equipment utilized during mammograms, Andersen was unable to contort her body to successfully have a mammogram due to limited mobility in her upper body. Additionally, Andersen struggled to have an ultrasound scan after experiencing an asthma attack due to scented gel that was used during the procedure. After experiencing an asthma attack, Andersen requested scent-free gel for her ultrasound, but the medical facility was unable to provide her with additional options. Andersen wants to raise awareness for individuals with disabilities and stated, “Lacking recent studies, documentation, and accessibility guides, mammography clinics are left without guidance and standards to remove barriers and make this essential screening test inclusive for people of all abilities.” (Andersen, 2023).
Natasha Batchelor is a mammography and breast imaging supervisor that is supporting Lene Andersen in her journey of advocating for individuals with disabilities. Batchelor (2023) spoke about the emotional toll mammography’s can have, stating “our patients are not fully clothes during the exam and often feel very vulnerable and self-conscious.” Her advocacy efforts stem from reflecting on how individuals with disabilities are more likely to not have a mammogram due to the lack of inclusive services (Batchelor, 2023). A change in training services for mammography technologists could bridge the gap for individuals with mobility disabilities to receive safe and inclusive mammograms. Batchelor (2023) has taken steps to address the systemic barrier by creating a webinar called Mammography in People with Physical Disabilities. You can find more information on the webinar here.
Lene Andersen and Natasha Batchelor have created a call to action for more accessibility in mammography clinics. Here is part of their call to action:
“We suggest that Lene's experience with getting — and not getting — mammography screening illustrates many of the barriers to breast cancer screening for women with disabilities. These common barriers are numerous: standing-person only check-in counters, small mammography rooms with no room for mobility aids, forms requiring handwriting, scented products, lack of education about disability accommodation for medical staff, no requirements for Hoyer lifts or adjustable exam tables in clinics, inadequate staffing levels and many more.”
If you would like to read their full call to action, you can find it here.
Andersen, L. and Batchelor, N. (2023, September 6). Making mammography inclusive for patients with disabilities. Journal of Medical Imaging and Radiation Sciences, 14(41), 501-140. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jmir.2023.08.003
Elsevier. (2023, September 12). Making mammography inclusive for patients with disabilities. Retrieved from: https://medicalxpress.com/news/2023-09-mammography-inclusive-patients-disabilities.html