To Your Health 2024

Make a day of it: AGH brings people out for free cancer screenings in Berlin

By Laura Walter
Posted 3/25/24

Free medical screening helps people take care of their bodies, which also prevents mental stress down the road. So Atlantic General Hospital hosts free cancer screenings each year to the general …

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To Your Health 2024

Make a day of it: AGH brings people out for free cancer screenings in Berlin


Free medical screening helps people take care of their bodies, which also prevents mental stress down the road. So Atlantic General Hospital hosts free cancer screenings each year to the general public.

“We try to target underinsured and low-income individuals, but technically all are welcome,” said Brooke Williams, Director of Imaging, and Interim Director for the Burbage Regional Cancer Care Center. “If they don’t have insurance, we can get them set up with our local health department to see if they qualify for insurance or Medicaid, as well.”

A lot of people haven’t prioritized screenings for breast, cervical or prostate cancer lately. But these mass events provide a specific date that people can add to their calendar, on a convenient weekend or evening. “Because it’s an event, it makes people a little more willing to come, it hits their radar a little bit more,” said Jill McGuire, Clinical Coordinator for Radiation Oncology. “And we do have some fun with it.”

Feeling nervous? People tend to feel braver at screening events because they’re not alone—literally everyone else is there for the same reason. Sometimes a group of friends or family members will make a day of it, grabbing lunch and then scheduling appointments for a similar time.

The Free Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening Day will be held Saturday, May 11, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Atlantic General Women’s Health in West Ocean City, Md.

Women receive a manual breast exam; a pelvic exam with pap smear; and a mammogram (if they are due for one, based on medical background). Pre-registration is required, so call (410) 629-6313 by May 3.

“Anyone who needs follow-up care, they will definitely receive a phone call and a certified letter,” McGuire said.

If cancer is detected, AGH staff can help patients seek financial assistance from federal, state or non-profit grant programs.

Men can look for the free prostate cancer screening event each autumn. Each year, AGH physicians and technicians check for prostate cancer by providing digital rectal exams and PSA blood tests. Prostate cancer doesn’t have symptoms at first, so early detection through screening helps affected men and their health care provider plan a course of action.

Last fall, 52 men were screed for prostate cancer. “The guys generally have fun when they come in here … we try to keep it as light as possible and still get the work done, and we’ve had some very positive feedback from the guys who’ve done it,” McGuire said. “The gentlemen are so appreciative. I get calls asking, ‘Is it O.K. if I bring my buddy because he hasn’t been screened for a few years?’”

Absolutely it is.

Cancer has been a top concern for both the public and for health experts for decades. “Our goal is to detect these cancers as soon as possible and treat these patients as soon as possible,” Williams said. “And to provide care to the community when people don’t have the resources, because we wanna catch everything early.”

Public screenings help AGH to catch health issues earlier, and hopefully before they become worse. “Personally with the patients I see—the lower income patients are coming in with the later stage diagnosis because they don’t have the time or funding for screening,” so people only visit the hospital when a condition has gotten out of control, McGuire said. “We end up seeing them with late stage or metastatic disease. They’re waiting too long.”

Also, just by hosting a big public, free event, AGH is showing the public that “these are important screenings,” Williams said. “There’s an awareness that ‘this is very important, I need to go get this done.’”

Cancer can be stressful, scary, painful and time-consuming. At the cancer center, Williams has been impressed with the positive outlook that the staff bring to work and their patients.

“Wanna know a secret?” McGuire said. “I’ve been doing this 28 years. Every single day I’m reminded how precious life is.” She wants people to know that “The most important part of our name is the ‘care’ part. We genuinely care about the patients. [My team has] a good bond, we’re not treating you like a number, but like a person … in a small area, that’s important.”

“Everyone is so kind and compassionate here,” said past patient William Rollins in a testimonial. “You feel like you’re family … the whole experience has been really good so far.”

This is part of AGH’s larger mission to serve people diagnosed with cancer on their main campus in Berlin.

At the John H. “Jack” Burbage Jr. Regional Cancer Care Center, services include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, genetic counseling (with the University of Maryland Greenebaum Comprehensive Cancer Center), immunotherapy, palliative care and complementary therapies, hematology, nutrition advice, financial counseling and psychological support.

“And we are right here in the community,” Williams said. “We’re not an hour-and-a-half away.”

The experts take a multidisciplinary approach to treating breast, lung, prostate, urinary tract, colorectal and gynecological cancers, plus leukemia, lymphoma, melanoma and more.

“We’re sensitive to each patient’s emotional and mental state, in addition to the needs and wishes of family members and other caregivers. That’s one of the reasons we offer same-day or next-day appointments for individuals who have just received a cancer diagnosis,” the website states.

Learn more about the AGH Burbage Regional Cancer Care Center at (410) 629-6888 and

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