SPRINGFIELD– Gov. Rod Blagojevich today proclaimed October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month in Illinois and Oct. 15, 2004, as Mammography Day and encouraged women to undergo regular cancer screenings.
“This month serves as a reminder to women across Illinois that it is time to take charge of their own health,” Gov. Blagojevich said. “That may mean getting an annual mammogram, doing a monthly self-exam, or seeing a physician for a regular check-up.”
More than 10,000 Illinoisans, mostly women, will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year. National studies have found that early detection and prompt treatment can significantly reduce the suffering caused by breast cancer.
“An estimated one in eight women will develop breast cancer during their lifetime and many will die,” said Dr. Eric E. Whitaker. “Breast cancer is second only to lung cancer as a cause of cancer death in women.”
Studies also have shown that uninsured women with low income are less likely to have regular mammograms and, as a result, have an increased risk of dying from breast cancer. Research shows that deaths from breast cancer for women in their forties can be reduced by 17 percent and by at least 30 percent for women ages 50 to 69, if women follow breast cancer screening recommendations, including routine mammography, regular examinations by a physician and monthly self-exams.
Since taking office, Gov. Blagojevich has provided an additional $5 million in state and federal dollars for community-based and faith-based outreach to help increase the number of women who are screened for breast and cervical cancer.
“We want to ensure that every woman, no matter her income or neighborhood, has access to screenings,” said Gov. Blagojevich.
As part of the month-long observance, the Illinois Department of Public Health will work with local health departments, hospitals, clinics and community-based organizations to promote the benefits of the Department-run Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program.
The program provides breast and cervical cancer screening to uninsured, low-income women between the ages of 35 and 64.
In fiscal year 2004, the Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program screened almost 19,000 women.
The Department also administers the Penny Severns Breast and Cervical Cancer Research Fund, which taxpayers can support with contributions when filing their annual state income tax returns. Since the fund first appeared on the 1993 state tax form, nearly $1.8 million has been donated to help fund 85 research projects in Illinois relating to early detection, prevention and treatment of breast and cervical cancer.
The Department also provides a toll-free Women’s Health Line, 1-888-522-1282 (TTY for hearing impaired is 1-800-547-0466), which can make available publications and resources covering a range of women’s health issues and concerns.