About the Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program


The National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (NBCCEDP) provides low-income, uninsured, and underinsured women access to lifesaving breast and cervical cancer screenings and follow-up services. However, Congress has only provided enough funding for fewer than one in five eligible women to receive these lifesaving screenings.

The Problem

Despite increased awareness among women of the importance of early detection, some women continue to face barriers that prevent them from accessing lifesaving cancer screenings. Many deaths from breast and cervical cancer can be prevented by increasing mammography and Pap test screening rates among low-income, uninsured, and underinsured women, who face more frequent late-stage cancer diagnoses where treatment options are more limited and survival rates are lowest.

A Solution

One of the greatest opportunities to reduce racial and ethnic disparities in breast cancer is to increase prevention, early detection and treatment services. We can change the odds by working to ensure a larger proportion of uninsured, and underinsured women have access to breast cancer screenings and follow-up care through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (NBCCEDP).

To date, the NBCCEDP has provided more than 10 million screening exams to underserved women. To ensure prompt delivery of care, the Breast and Cervical Cancer Prevention and Treatment Act gave all 50 states and the District of Columbia the option to allow Medicaid to cover treatment for women diagnosed with cancer under the NBCCEDP.

While NBCCEDP is very successful, due to lack of funding, less than one out of every five eligible women are still not being screened or getting access to needed follow up treatment. Adequate funding would save many more lives through this program. The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network is asking Congress to increase funding for the program to $275 million in fiscal year 2013.

Improving access to early breast cancer screening and treatment is critical to the President's goal of eliminating suffering and death due to cancer.

Breast and Cervical Cancer: The Scope of the Problem

40,000 Deaths This Year

Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women, accounting for nearly one of every four cancers diagnosed in U.S. women. An estimated 226,870 new cases of female breast cancer will be diagnosed and 39,5100 deaths are expected in 2012.

Although cervical cancer occurs less frequently, minority and medically underserved women are disproportionately affected and experience higher incidence rates from this cancer. In this year alone, an estimated 12,170 cases of cervical cancer will be diagnosed, with 4,220 deaths expected.

Increased use of effective screening tools, primarily mammography and the Pap test, are helping to increase the survival rate of these cancers. For example, precancerous cervical lesions detected via Pap tests can be treated before they progress to cancer, resulting in nearly a 100 percent survival rate. And, early detection of breast cancer through mammography greatly improves the chances for successful treatment and survival.

The combination of these screening tools, effective community programs, and appropriate treatment are winning the war on cancer and saving thousands of women's lives every year.

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