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Free cancer screenings available outside LaPlace Winn-Dixie on Dec. 8

LAPLACE — Now is the time for St. John the Baptist Parish residents with or without health insurance to schedule cost-free breast and colorectal cancer screenings, courtesy of Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center in Baton Rouge.

Screenings will be conducted from 9 to 11 a.m. and noon to 2 p.m. Dec. 8 inside a mobile health care unit in front of the LaPlace Winn-Dixie, located at 1830 W. Airline Highway.

While appointments aren’t required to receive colorectal screening kits, patients are asked to call in advance for scheduling purposes, according to Johnnay Benjamin, director of early detection and education at Mary Bird Perkins.

Easy-to-use colorectal kits will be distributed to men and women age 50 or older and individuals with a family history of colorectal cancer who have not been screened in the past 12 months.

A positive test result should be followed up with a colonoscopy.

Benjamin said clinical breast exams will be provided to women of all ages, and mammograms are available to women age 40 or older who have not received a mammogram within the past 12 months.

Insurance will be billed for mammograms, and there is no charge to women without insurance.

According to Benjamin, a patient navigator will be on-site to assist patients if abnormalities are found.

Screenings will be conducted Dec. 8 inside a mobile health care unit in front of the LaPlace Winn-Dixie.

“She works to remove barriers that would prevent patients from going to additional follow-ups,” Benjamin said. “If someone has an abnormal clinical breast exam, she can start the process of getting them the imaging they need and call to make necessary appointments. Information from the mammograms would come at a later date, but once we receive that information, it’s the same process.”

A personal ID is required for services, and an insurance card may be presented, if available.

Benjamin said early detection is vital because cancer has a devastating impact on the person diagnosed and on a vast network of friends and family.

“We like to promote things that people can do to prevent cancer, but we know sometimes, despite people’s best efforts, cancer sill develops,” Benjamin said.

“The impact of these screenings is saving lives with early detection. When people come and take part in a screening and detect cancer at an early stage, it gives them a shot at going on to live a new normal and being able to contribute to their families.”

Mary Bird Perkins offers other mobile services including oral, prostate and skin screenings, Benjamin said, adding services are tailored to the needs of the community.

Scott Miller, communications director for Mary Bird Perkins, said screenings are generally held twice a year in LaPlace and regularly throughout the 18-parish Southeast Louisiana region.

“If people are interested in finding out other screening locations and services, they can view a list at marybirdperkins.org,” Miller said. “Even if it’s not in LaPlace, there may be one close by.”

To schedule an appointment for a Dec. 8 screening in LaPlace, call 225-215-1234.