No-one wants to be diagnosed with cancer. Yet, there are many people who, for a variety of reasons, don’t have access to screenings that can detect cancer in its early stages, improve quality of life and prevent cancer-related deaths.

That’s why the Bassett Cancer Institute is putting a new RV-type medical coach, custom built by Medical Coaches of Oneonta and equipped with high-tech diagnostic technology, on the road to travel throughout Bassett’s eight county service region and adjacent counties. By bringing these services to disadvantaged and underserved populations in rural areas, Bassett is hoping to reduce the number of cancer deaths that occur every year.

Did you know that women in central New York have higher rates of breast cancer than in other parts of the state, but fewer women here have mammograms? Additionally, state health department statistics show that the number of people living in rural areas who are diagnosed with this and other cancers at an early stage is lower than the state average. We know the five-year survival rate for breast cancer in its earliest stages is 97%, while at later stages, it is just over 23%.

The custom-built medical screening coach was unveiled on Wednesday 12 November at New York Central Mutual in Edmeston. More than a decade ago, New York Central Mutual provided support that helped establish Bassetts mobile mammography program, bringing breast cancer screening services directly to communities across the region. New York Central continues to be a strong supporter of this project.

SEFCU, a federal credit union based in Albany with a long tradition of community development, has contributed $100,000 toward the program. Between 2006 and 2008, The Friends of Bassett raised a total of $866,780 for Bassetts mobile cancer screening program in support of the coach. The unveiling of the coach coincides with the re-naming of Bassett’s regional cancer program as the Bassett Cancer Institute.

“The name change reflects the evolution of Bassett’s cancer program and the breadth and quality of our cancer care,” explains the Cancer Institute’s director, Dr. William Richtsmeier.

“Our coordinated, comprehensive approach assures that all patients receive state-of-the-art cancer treatments in order to achieve the greatest likelihood of a successful outcome. We’re not only committed to the best treatment possible, we want to prevent, as much as possible, the emotional and physical toll a cancer diagnosis can take on patients and their families. Toward that end, the new cancer screening coach will be a valuable tool in our fight against cancer.”

The new coach contains full-field digital mammography equipment. In addition, the coach’s self-contained technology and exam room enables staff to perform additional types of cancer screenings, including cervical cancer screenings, Pap tests, prostate cancer screenings, and colorectal cancer screenings, as well as provide educational materials to the estimated 2,000 patients expected to be treated each year. No-one will be turned away because of their inability to pay.

Early detection of cancer can spare people its consequences, which includes human suffering and premature death, decreased quality of life, psychological pain, loss of income and treatment costs. Through the coach’s delivery of increased screenings and preventive education, Bassett hopes to impact cancer in a positive way.