Screening with a Smile

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Dr. Alex Merkulov
Dr. Alex Merkulov

“Screening with a Smile” is a new program taking place at the UConn Health Center and is being funded by the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation.

Dr. Alex Merkulov says underserved and high-risk women seeking dental care through UConn’s Advanced Education in General Dentistry program (AEGD) will be recruited, educated, counseled, and offered a free mammogram.

“We are very excited about this grant and the work that can be achieved in our continued efforts to save lives and end breast cancer forever by empowering people, ensuring quality care for all and energizing science to find the cures,” says Anne Morris, executive director for Komen Connecticut.

Connecticut has the second-highest incidence of breast cancer in the United States with more than 3,000 women diagnosed each year.

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Screening with a Smile offers free mammograms to underserved and high-risk women. (Tina Encarnacion/UConn Health Center Photo)

According to the Komen Foundation and its 2011 Community Profile of Breast Cancer in Connecticut, several of the centers which refer patients to AEGD are located in towns with high late-stage breast cancer diagnosis rates and high breast cancer mortality rates.

Merkulov says the Screening with a Smile program will attempt to capture these unscreened women as they and their family members seek dental care at the AEGD clinic.  Qualifying women will be given educational material and have their risk for breast cancer evaluated. On-site free screening mammography will be offered to all qualifying patients. Any necessary follow-up care will be arranged at the Health Center with the multidisciplinary breast team. In addition, patients will be provided with locations where free or low-cost routine annual screening could be obtained in the future.

The Screening with a Smile program is one of many initiatives funded by the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation. One of its major fundraisers, the Race for the Cure, is being held this Saturday, June 1, in Hartford’s Bushnell Park.

The annual event includes a 5K race and walk. The Health Center is a sponsor and UConn President Susan Herbst is this year’s honorary chair.

Learn more or join Team UConn at Susan G. Komen Race for Cure.

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