Breast Cancer Awareness Month Highlights the Need for Adequate Funding for Lifesaving Program
National Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening Program Serving Fewer Than 1 in 5 Eligible Women
WASHINGTON, D.C. – October 15, 2010 – Cancer advocates nationwide are marking National Breast Cancer Awareness Month by urging their members of Congress to boost funding for a federal program that provides access to lifesaving breast and cervical cancer screenings and treatment for millions of low-income and uninsured women.
“For 20 years the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program has been providing access to lifesaving breast and cervical cancer screenings to those who otherwise could not get them,” said Christopher W. Hansen, president of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN). “Yet inadequate funding prevents the program from helping millions of low-income and uninsured women who need it. It is critical that Congress address the funding needs of this program when lawmakers return from recess and take up the FY2011 budget.”
The program, which is administered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), has provided more than 9 million screening exams to more than 3.7 million women and detected more than 44,000 cases of breast cancer. Despite the program’s success, it is only able to serve fewer than one in five eligible women at current funding levels. Since its establishment in 1990, the program has been implemented in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, five U.S. territories and 12 American Indian/Alaska Native tribes or tribal organizations. The program offers breast and cervical cancer screenings to more than 500,000 women every year, targeting racial and ethnic minorities, who tend to have lower screening rates for these cancers.
President Bush signed legislation in 2007 that reauthorized the program, but although that bill set the fiscal year 2010 funding level at $250 million, Congress provided only $215 million. ACS CAN is calling on Congress to increase funding to the current authorized level of $255 million for fiscal year 2011.
A beneficiary of the program, Lorene Nelson of Georgetown, South Carolina, will participate in a conference call today with Dr. Jill Biden and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to mark Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Nelson, a stage IV breast cancer survivor and American Cancer Society volunteer, could not afford a mammogram when she discovered a lump on her breast five years ago. Thanks to the breast and cervical program, she was screened and treated for her cancer. Now 63, Nelson will join other breast cancer survivors on the call today to highlight the importance of breast cancer screenings.
Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths among women, but screening can reduce breast cancer mortality rates, with the potential of saving thousands of lives each year. Unfortunately, many women do not have access to lifesaving tests. Only 26 percent of uninsured or underinsured women over the age of 40 had a mammogram in the past year, compared with 56 percent of adequately insured women.
For more information on breast cancer and the federal screening program, visit www.acscan.org/breastcancer.
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