The Boob Bus’s mission is to improve Utah’s mammogram rate

Feb 15, 2024, 5:49 PM | Updated: Feb 16, 2024, 8:28 am

SOUTH JORDAN —A high number of Utah women don’t get mammograms, and a genetic counselor at the University of Utah is trying to change that.

According to a 2023 study, Utah is one of the three lowest states for mammogram screening rates. Breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer death for women in the state.

“This isn’t something we should be bashful about,” Rena Vanzo said. “Why not make mammograms fun?”

Vanzo is a mom, genetic counselor, and master’s student. She created the Boob Bus, a mobile screening unit, as part of the University of Utah’s business creation entrepreneur program.

But it was the state’s statistics that inspired the bus.

“Utah ranks 48 out of 50 states for mammogram compliance,” Vanzo said. “So our women aren’t going as often as they should. They’re busy.”

Women like Sandra Johnson. She hesitated to get screened.

“I have implants, and so I’ve just been terrified of what that would be like, especially because they’re older, and so I was just worried that that would cause problems,” Johnson said.

Boob Bus screening

The mobile mammography unit can also screen women who have dense breast tissue and test genetics. (Shelby Lofton, KSL TV)

Technologist Niki Keene said there are many reasons why a woman is nervous to get screened. She used to work in a hospital.

“For me, it was hard to take the time. I felt like I wanted to take with my patients,” Keene said.

Keene said the bus allows her to give each woman the time and care she needs.

“We also have a bus for screening ultrasound for women who have dense breast tissue,” she explained.

For everyone on board, breast cancer is personal.

“Women’s health impacts men everywhere in our community,” co-founder Mike Koch said. “I have three daughters. I have breast cancer and ovarian cancer in my family.”

It’s something Johnson thinks about a lot.

“My mom has stage four breast cancer, and so I’ve got a lot of people that are, have been pushing, it’s been pushing for me to get this,” Johnson said as she wiped away tears.

The project’s drivers hope to eliminate some of the nerves women have around screenings, so they added some fun.

“You’re waiting where you can get Botox or have a paraffin dip or do a hot towel,” Keene said.

Vanzo is working on partnering with clinics, gyms, libraries and grocery stores so women can get screened when and where it’s convenient.

“Let’s make a mobile unit that can be booked by women having a private party, maybe during a book club,” she said.

The bus also offers genetic testing. They want women to get screened as often as they should.

“A really easy saliva test kit to check if a woman has one of these increases in cancer,” Vanzo said. “Even if we just save one person, that’s not little to us, that’s big,”

They’re traveling anywhere in the state to the women ready to get the job done.

KSL 5 TV Live


FILE - A doctor uses a hand-held Doppler probe on a pregnant woman to measure the heartbeat of the ...

Amanda Seitz, Associated Press

Emergency rooms refused to treat pregnant women, leaving one to miscarry in a lobby restroom

Complaints about pregnant women being turned away from emergency rooms spiked in the months after states began enacting strict abortion laws following the 2022 U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade.

5 days ago

Marc Dunbabin, got his second chance at life with his family thanks to a bone marrow donor....

Emma Benson

Utah dad gets second chance at life thanks to bone marrow transplant

Utah dad hopes to meet the person who gave him second chance at life thanks to a bone marrow transplant.

6 days ago

Melatonin use can be especially dangerous in children and should only be used after consulting a pe...

Sandee LaMotte

Melatonin industry asked to voluntarily tighten standards after dramatic rise in childhood ER visits

A March 2024 report from the CDC discovered some 11,000 children had been seen in emergency rooms between 2019 and 2022 after ingesting melatonin while unsupervised.

7 days ago

Paris Hilton is pictured at a news conference....

Tran Nguyễn, Associated Press

Paris Hilton backs California bill to bring more transparency to youth treatment facilities

Hotel heiress and media personality Paris Hilton is backing California legislation that aims to bring more transparency to discipline used at facilities for troubled teens.

8 days ago

FILE: Getty Images...

Sylvia Hui, Associated Press

UK lawmakers will vote on a landmark bill to gradually phase out smoking

A plan by Britain’s government to introduce a landmark smoking ban that aims to stop young people from ever smoking is set to clear its first hurdle on Tuesday, despite vocal opposition from within Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s Conservative Party.

8 days ago

(File photo)...

Jonel Aleccia AP Health Writer

Bird flu is spreading to more farm animals. Are milk and eggs safe?

A bird flu outbreak in U.S. dairy cows has grown to affect more than two dozen herds in eight states, just weeks after the nation's largest egg producer found the virus in its chickens.

11 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Women hold card for scanning key card to access Photocopier Security system concept...

Les Olson

Why Printer Security Should Be Top of Mind for Your Business

Connected printers have vulnerable endpoints that are an easy target for cyber thieves. Protect your business with these tips.

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

The Boob Bus’s mission is to improve Utah’s mammogram rate