October 11, 2006
Actress/Activist Diahann Carroll and state public health director urge African-American women to get screened for breast cancer
Illinois Department of Public Health is Working with Communities for a Cure
CHICAGO, Ill. – Actress Diahann Carroll joined Dr. Eric E. Whitaker, state public health director, today to urge women to get routine mammograms and educate themselves about breast cancer. The veteran actress, who is a breast cancer survivor, spoke at the “Communities Working Together for a Cure” luncheon at Apostolic Church of God. As part of the Blagojevich administration's efforts to encourage more women to get screened for breast and cervical cancer, t he Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) has been working with faith based organizations during Breast Cancer Awareness Month to stress the importance of mammograms and early intervention.
“Early detection of breast cancer can mean the difference between life and death and a mammogram is a woman’s best chance for detecting breast cancer early,” said Dr. Whitaker. “By encouraging women to get mammograms, we can stress the importance of early detection and save thousands of lives.”
According to the American Cancer Society, breast cancer is the most common cancer among Illinois women. Almost 9,000 women will develop breast cancer and approximately 2,000 will die from the disease this year alone.
Although death rates from breast cancer have been declining in recent years, they are highest among women of color. With proper screening and treatment; however, the chances of surviving breast cancer are significant. Regular mammograms can significantly reduce the chance of death from breast cancer. Despite this, nearly half of women in the target age bracket have not had a mammogram in the past two years.
“Some of the reasons given for the high breast cancer mortality among African-American women include lack of insurance, lower rates of screenings, delayed diagnosis, follow-up and/or treatment, poor doctor-patient communication and perceptions of being treated with respect and cultural sensitivity,” said Dr. Whitaker.
The Center for Minority Health Services received $4.2 million in funding for the Illinois Communities of Color Breast and Cervical Cancer Initiative for fiscal year 2007. This initiative, which includes Stand Against Cancer and the Hispanic Breast and Cervical Cancer Program, works in collaboration with community and faith based organizations, and local health departments to provide outreach, education, and screenings, and supports a comprehensive provider network that provides appropriate follow up services. During fiscal year 2006 the Communities of Color Breast and Cervical Cancer Initiative provided women with more than 18,880 screenings and reached over 158,000 women with educational information.
Eliminating health disparities and improving access to health care have been two priorities of Governor Rod R. Blagojevich. Beginning in September 2006, Gov. Blagojevich expanded the Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program (IBCCP) to allow 3,000 additional uninsured, low income women to be screened and more than 400 additional women to be treated this year through the Healthcare Benefits for Persons with Breast or Cervical Cancer Act.
The Governor’s expansion also keeps eligible women from falling through the cracks if they need treatment. Previously, if a woman was eligible for IBCCP but had not actually enrolled in the program, she could not receive free treatment. The Governor’s expansion allows women who meet eligibility requirements to be eligible for free treatment even if they were not previously enrolled in IBCCP.
Gov. Blagojevich has made other significant contributions to promote and improve women’s health including:
For more information on how to get breast and cervical cancer screening and treatment, log on to a new website www.cancerscreening.Illinois.gov or by calling the Women’s Health-Line at 888-522-1282 or for TTY (hearing impaired use only), 800-547-0466. Information on women’s health issues and programs can also be found on the IDPH website, www.idph.state.il.us.
of Public Health
535 West Jefferson Street
Springfield, Illinois 62761
Questions or Comments