Free cervical cancer screening and preventive treatment can benefit women in low-income communities
When Nyemma Wickham, 29, arrived for a free Pap test at NYU Langone Family Health Centers in Brooklyn earlier this month, she was expecting another routine visit.
For the past few years, she had been diligent about receiving annual cancer screenings, which had always come back clear. On that freezing January day, however, Wickham was surprised to learn that doctors had identified precancerous cells in her cervix.
Upon hearing this news, Wickham, who works as a paraprofessional at a college in Brooklyn, wondered if she would need to schedule more visits and procedures, if insurance would cover the costs, and if she faced serious risk for his health. His concerns were quickly allayed as the next step took place right then, in the doctor’s office. She underwent complete removal of her abnormal cells, with no additional costs or procedural provisions.
In-clinic same-day cancer screening and preventive treatment
Cervical cancer screening technology recently introduced at NYU Langone’s Women’s Health—Family Health Centers in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, allows doctors to detect and remove precancerous cells from the surface or canal of the cervix. cervix during the same appointment with the patient. The loop electrosurgical excision procedure, known as LEEP, is usually performed under local anesthesia and is similar to colon cancer screening in which doctors remove any developing polyps in real time during a colonoscopy. This easy access to cutting-edge treatment can help many women in low-income communities stay healthy, while avoiding time-consuming and costly interventions that seem out of reach.
“They asked me if you wanted to deal with it right now in the office,” Wickham said of his scouting visit. “I said, of course! It was so easy. Wickham no longer has abnormal precancerous cells from her cervix, which greatly reduces her risk of developing cervical cancer.
Although Wickham, a millennial with ties to Brooklyn College, gets regular annual Pap tests, clinicians at NYU Langone Family Health Centers say many patients are reluctant to participate in screenings, especially older women who may not be be unaware of cervical cancer risks or those who are worried about insurance and documentation.
The LEEP option is local and free, encouraging women to take that first step and get tested. And because LEEP can treat high-grade precancerous lesions in the office, it’s especially helpful for women who find it difficult to take time away from work or family to take care of their own health..”
Meleen Chuang, MD, Medical Director of Women’s Health at Family Health Centers, NYU Langone
Dr. Chuang says his patients are extremely grateful for this treatment option. “A patient even tried to give me money, through tears, after her procedure.”