New cancer research trying to get more Mid-South women to get mammogram screenings

WATCH: Only 60 percent of Shelby Co. women get annual screenings for breast cancer

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The first cancer research of its kind in the Mid-South is trying to save the lives of women across the region.

The goal is to get mammogram screenings to 80 percent in the next five years. The research is designed to make it easier for people to get the screenings.

Researchers said the reason this data is so important is because only 60 percent of women in Shelby County between 40-64 years old are getting their annual mammogram screenings.

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That’s considered extremely low.

“Thank God I’m still alive, I got mine’s checked in time,” said Joann James, a breast cancer survivor.

James is a two-time breast cancer survivor. FOX13 caught up with her at the Breast Cancer Awareness Health Fair at the Memphis VA Medical Center.

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“I was so sad, especially in 2004, I thought my life was doomed,” James said.

The cancer came back in 2008.

Kiki Hall with Common Table Health spearheads a number of initiatives and programs to address breast cancer mortality and breast cancer disparities in the Mid-South.

“Another surprising statistic is that every one of the zip codes in Shelby County have a breast cancer mortality rate higher than the national average, and that cuts across all socioeconomic neighborhoods,” Hall said.

That’s why Hall’s partnering with a number of other organizations to produce the first of its kind “Quality and Capacity Report,” set to be released this year.

The Memphis Breast Cancer Consortium already collected data at facilities throughout Memphis where people get their mammograms.

“Capacity, utilization, hours of operation, what all certifications those clinics have, how quickly they can get a follow up appointment if they need one,” Hall said.

That data will also break down questions, such as should clinics extend their hours to make it easier for people to get there?

“One of our big goals is to improve the screening rates and in order to do that, we need to make sure that we have the capacity in Memphis to be able to do that,” Hall said.

“It’s going to save their lives, as soon as they find out about it they can go ahead and take care of it,” James said.

Once the report is released, community partners will decide what steps to take next.