|September 2, 2003
ILLINOIS BREAST AND CERVICAL CANCER PROGRAM GETS A HEAD START
Multiple events, outreach provide information on free screenings for eligible women
CHICAGO, ILL With National Breast Cancer Awareness Month less than a month away, the Illinois Department of Public Health is leading the charge during September to raise awareness of the importance of breast and cervical cancer screening and to increase enrollment in the Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program.
"The program has already reached more than 35,000 women, but many women who would qualify for the program still have not enrolled," said Dr. Eric E. Whitaker, state public health director. "It's important for us to get the word to them, as well as to health providers and community leaders who can serve as our ambassadors."
The program, which provides breast and cervical cancer screenings to uninsured, low-income women, will participate in three events and other outreach during September to increase awareness and enrollments, including:
Eligible women who enroll in the Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program, which is funded cooperatively by the Illinois Department of Public Health and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, receive free Pap tests, pelvic exams, mammograms and breast exams. Women diagnosed with cancer through the program may qualify for treatment at no cost through a special initiative administered by the Illinois Department of Public Aid.
The program was created because studies show that uninsured women with low income are less likely to have regular mammograms and Pap tests and, as a result, have an increased risk of dying from breast and cervical cancer.
A study by Michigan State University found women with incomes below the poverty level who have breast cancer were three times more likely to die from the disease than were women with incomes above the poverty level. The National Center for Health Statistics reports that women below the poverty level are less likely to have had a mammogram within the past two years (55.2 percent vs. 72.2 percent for women at or above the poverty level).
Individuals wanting to receive enrollment information can call 1-888-522-1282 (Spanish-speaking attendants available) and those with hearing impairments can call 1-800-547-0466.
Editor's/Producer's Note: Telephone, in-person or on-camera interviews can be arranged with state and local representatives of the Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program and with women enrolled in the program.
of Public Health
535 West Jefferson Street
Springfield, Illinois 62761
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