May 19, 2006
State public health director celebrates more than 75,000 mammograms in Illinois during National Women’s Health Week
Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program reaches major milestone
AURORA, Ill. –Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) Director, Dr. Eric E. Whitaker, celebrated the Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program (IBCCP) reaching the 75,000th mammogram milestone mark today at the Visiting Nurses Association (VNA) of Fox Valley. The VNA of Fox Valley contributed significantly to reaching the 75,000th mammogram milestone by screening thousands of women for breast cancer through IBCCP. The VNA serves a large Hispanic population and low-income uninsured women who otherwise would not receive mammograms.
The Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program, administered through the Illinois Department of Public Health, offers free mammograms, breast exams, pelvic exams and Pap tests to low-income, uninsured women. Since the program was launched in Illinois in 1995 through the end of April 2006, IBCCP has provided 77,148 mammograms and Governor Rod R. Blagojevich announced this past Sunday the expansion of the IBCCP to serve even more women.
“Mammograms are the most effective tool doctors have for detecting breast cancer early and saving lives,” said Dr. Whitaker. “Reaching the 75,000th mammogram milestone mark in less than eleven years shows the need for the Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program and how successful the program has been, especially here at the Visiting Nurses Association of Fox Valley.”
The VNA is the lead agency for IBCCP for Kane and Kendal Counties and has participated in the program since 1999. VNA doctors and other doctors partnering with the VNA also provide follow-up diagnostic testing if abnormal test results are received and coordination of ongoing medical care if necessary. On average, more than 800 women a year receive mammograms through VNA’s Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program. Since 2000 through the end of 2005, 82 cases of cancer have been diagnosed through IBCCP. Approximately 84 percent of the current VNA caseload is Hispanic women.
“Our support for the Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program is unwavering. We’re committed to doing all we can to bring this program and its many benefits to every woman in our area who needs it. We’re also proud to support this program further by offering a full continuum of gynecological and primary healthcare services available through our VNA Health Centers in Aurora and Elgin,” said Linnea Windel, President and CEO, VNA of Fox Valley
While the Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program is open to women of all races who are older than 35 years of age, IDPH emphasizes the enrollment of low-income, African American and rural women, ages 50-64. Recent studies have shown African-American women, older women and low-income women to be at higher risk of dying from breast and cervical cancer because they have no way to pay for life saving preventive screenings.
Women who are eligible for the IBCCP include women who:
Local nurses and professional staff help enroll women by scheduling screenings, explaining screening results and answering any questions. These same nurses and professional staff refer women needing treatment for breast, cervical cancer or pre-cancerous cervical conditions to the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services.
Gov. Blagojevich’s expansion plan for breast and cervical cancer screening allows for an additional 7,000 women to be screened over the next two years and treatment for approximately 500 women across Illinois who are diagnosed with either breast or cervical cancer. The plan expands the income threshold for the Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program (IBCCP) so more women can qualify and allows women who were diagnosed by their doctor to receive treatment through the Healthcare and Family Services treatment program.
Raising the income threshold to include more women: Administered by the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), IBCCP currently offers free mammograms, breast exams, pelvic exams and Pap tests to women at or below 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) ($40,000 for a family of 4). The Governor’s expansion, which takes effect January 2007, raises the income threshold to 250 percent of the FPL ($50,000 for a family of 4), offering increased access to more Illinois women. For example, while a woman in a family of four with a current household income of no more than $40,000 may be eligible for IBCCP, under the Governor’s expansion, a woman in a family of four with a current household income of $50,000 is eligible, assuming she meets the other eligibility criteria.
Expanding access to treatment: Currently, if a woman is eligible for IBCCP but is diagnosed with breast or cervical cancer outside of the program, then she is not eligible for treatment. The Governor’s expansion allows women who meet IBCCP eligibility requirements, but are diagnosed outside the current IBCCP sites, to go straight into the treatment program, which offers treatment at no cost. This gives women more choices and also avoids penalizing women and their medical providers who did not know about the program but who were screened and diagnosed by their doctor, community health center or other health care facility.
For additional information, call the Women’s Health-Line toll free at: 1-888-522-1282, or TTY (hearing impaired use only) at: 1-800-547-0466.
of Public Health
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Springfield, Illinois 62761
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