- are you kidding? I'll never go through that ordeal again - I can't
balance or hold still long enough for them to get a good picture!"
from web site of Breast Health Access for Women with Disabilities
Access to Breast Health for Women with Disabilities
with disabilities often have less access to breast health services
than any other group of women, according to the National Women's
Health Information Center. Overall, women who are not disabled receive
mammograms 11 percent more often than women with considerable limitations.
if women with disabilities schedule mammograms or clinical breast
exams, many cannot receive either service because of inaccessible
health care facilities and medical equipment. Medical and societal
biases also prevent treatment. These barriers may contribute to
the delayed diagnosis of breast disease in women with disabilities,
according to the Breast Health Access for Women with Disabilities
program (BHAWD) in California.
many women with disabilities are familiar with the guidelines for
breast cancer detection, a variety of issues preclude the ability
of many to pursue the widely recommended methods of breast screening
such as, monthly breast self-exam (BSE), annual clinical breast
exam and mammograms. Various physical impairments may affect abilities
to perform all methods of breast screening. Women with limited hand
and arm function, with lack of sensation in their fingertips, and
with low vision may have difficulty performing BSE according to
women who use wheelchairs cannot transfer themselves or be transferred
onto standard examining tables. Similarly, women using wheelchairs
may be unlikely to find accessible mammography machines to accommodate
them in their chairs. And women (including seniors) who have tremors,
who experience spasms, or who lack the stamina to stand at an imaging
machine also should be seated for accurate screening.
National Women's Health Information Center reports that healthcare
providers who focus on the area affected by the disability might
not encourage women to regularly examine their breasts. Also, women
with disabilities are often not identified as an underserved population
for breast-cancer screening. Thus, they are not specifically targeted
in education and outreach efforts by breast cancer organizations.
community partnership working to overcome such barriers is Breast
Health Access for Women with Disabilities (BHAWD). It provides breast
education and accessible breast screening for women with physical
disabilities and vision impairments in Alameda and Contra Costa
Counties, California. BHAWD's goal is to call attention to the breast-screening
needs of women with disabilities, the numerous barriers that impede
their access to screening and the serious neglect of this special
population in local, state and national programs designed to improve
This article includes excerpts from the web sites of BHAWD www.bhawd.org/index2.html
and the National Women's Health Information Center www.4woman.gov/.
for Breast Health
Health Access for Women with Disabilities
Alta Bates Herrick Medical Center
2001 Dwight Way, Room 2362
Berkeley, CA 94704
BHAWD's home page is
Breast Self-Examination Program for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Women
The MammaCare Learning System uses a special life-like breast model
with videotape instruction for women to learn to do a thorough breast
self-examination at home.
Home page: www.mammacare.com/
Women's Health Information Center
Women With Disabilities page: www.4woman.gov/wwd/
See also ...
Coverage for Mammograms