UT Southwestern takes cancer prevention and care on the road

UTSW brings cancer care to patients' homes

North Texas is home to an estimated 15,000 cancer survivors who are uninsured and under-served.

A lot of times, they don't have easy access to follow-up care. But, UT Southwestern is changing that.

It has a $1.1 million, custom 18-wheeler that takes medical care on the road, covering Tarrant, Parker, Wise, Hood, Erath, Somervell, Johnson, Ellis, and Navarro counties and over 7,000 square miles.

From the outside, it may seem like just a big 18 wheeler in a parking lot, but inside, it's a full medical clinic.

"Everything that we can do in our brick-and-mortar building in Fort Worth, we can do in this mobile clinic," said Tracy Mazour, manager of UT Southwestern's survivorship program.

Parked in Arlington, this mobile clinic is where women without health insurance can go for a 3D mammogram, or where any cancer survivor can get a full check up.

"We don't turn anybody away, and we never send anyone a bill," Mazour said.

For questions that can't be answered on-site, there's tele-medicine -- staff can call a doctor or psychologist to assist right away.

By 2022, the National Cancer Institute estimates survivors will account for five percent of the U.S. population. For many of them, transportation is the biggest barrier to follow-up care.

"So, we're taking all the services out to them," Mazour said.

There are exercise, nutrition, and counseling programs for cancer survivors. They're all free, paid for through federal grants.

"I had a mass, but I didn't know it," said Angela Johnson. At the time of her stage 3 breast cancer diagnosis, she was uninsured.

"I didn't know what I was going to do," Johnson told us.

After a lumpectomy, she is getting fit, eating well, and thriving.

"I'm able to exercise more, I'm able to communicate more about what's going on with me," Johnson said.

The same programs that helped her lose 40 pounds and stay cancer-free for five years are the ones she wants to share with women across North Texas.

"I want to set a good example for the women who are in my life," Johnson said.

The mobile unit has bilingual staff, and they will accept walk-ins.

Women ages 35 and up can get mammograms and cervical screenings free of charge. Any cancer survivor -- man or woman -- ages 18 and up can get free survivorship program benefits, including nutrition, exercise, and psychological help.

Copyright 2016 WFAA


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