Three bases in Japan yet to see mobile mammogram unit
Stars and Stripes June 5, 2003
SASEBO NAVAL BASE, Japan — A new mobile diagnostic vehicle for performing breast-cancer examinations still hasn’t arrived in Sasebo, Iwakuni and Atsugi.
In February, Capt. Adam Robinson said a new mobile mammogram unit would visit the three U.S. military facilities — where Yokosuka Naval Base’s hospital operates clinics — on a regular basis in the “near future.”
But for women awaiting the service, that’s turned into more “future” and less “near.”
“Unfortunately, there has been a delay in getting the mammography van to Japan, but we are working diligently to get the best possible van here as soon as we can,” said hospital spokesman Bill Doughty. Without disclosing specifics, Doughty said, “Another agency is studying which type of van to send.”
The American Cancer Society identifies breast cancer as the second-leading cause of cancer death in women after lung cancer — essentially making mammograms, basically breast X-rays, a diagnostic necessity.
Women from Sasebo and Iwakuni Marine Corps Air Station who need mammograms now travel to Yokosuka via medevac flights. Travel time and the procedure can take “at least four days,” according to Petty Officer 2nd Class Wineet Hare, Sasebo’s medevac program administrator.
Branch clinics offer same-day services and consultations, if necessary, with off-base radiologists, Doughty said.
However, such mammogram-like services are “not compatible” with the American medical practices the Navy follows, Hare said.
“We are also installing digital radiology equipment at our branch clinics in Atsugi, Sasebo and Iwakuni,” Doughty said.
Hare said round-trip flights to Sasebo are reasonably priced. Lodging rates in Yokosuka are based on pay grades.