How many clicks does it take to fund a free mammogram? Tens of thousands of clicks are needed for one mammogram. Literally. For example, in July 2007, there were almost five million clicks on thebreastcancersite.com. Those five million clicks paid for 129 mammograms.
Some will argue that if just one woman discovers her breast cancer because of this site, that makes it all worthwhile. But wouldn’t it be better if more women could benefit, and if it didn’t take more than 40,000 clicks? Imagine if 40,000 people wrote a letter or made a phone call to their legislators about breast cancer treatment or prevention.
Consider this: taxpayer-funded programs already exist to provide screening mammograms to low-income women. Every state has a Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (BCCEDP) through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This federally funded program does community outreach and pays providers who perform mammograms. While this program has some limitations and doesn’t cover everyone, The Breast Cancer Site (TBCS) is essentially raising money for a service that is already being provided.
What every state does not yet provide is comprehensive treatment for poor women with breast cancer. In some states, poor women are being tested for breast and cervical cancer, but will have little or no access to treatment if they are diagnosed. Until we can get our federal government to provide the healthcare we all deserve, wouldn’t low-income women be better served if The Breast Cancer Site helped clinics pay for treatment of breast cancer, or helped these women with the other hardships they face, e.g., transportation to treatment, high rents, utility bills, or access to complementary therapies?
Instead, TBCS funds the National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF), which says it pays for mammograms for women who cannot afford them. TBCS does this by tabulating the number of people who click on its website during a certain time frame, bills the sponsors for the appropriate amount, and then sends these advertising fees to the NBCF.
There is no data on how much of the proceeds that the NBCF receives are used to actually pay for mammograms, since the NBCF does not actually offer mammography screening. Instead the NBCF “[gives] grants directly through designated programs.” The actual dollar amounts are never disclosed; in their place are lists of the number of clicks and number of mammograms.
So what can you do? Send an e-mail to the National Breast Cancer Foundation at firstname.lastname@example.org requesting that it use some of the money it raises for mammograms to guarantee treatment for the women it helps screen. Simply referring patients to other agencies for treatment does not address the various needs of poor women, nor does it insure that poor women diagnosed with breast cancer will not continue to fall through the cracks.