Press Release

January 3, 2008

Gov. Blagojevich urges every woman to get routine breast and cervical cancer screenings in the New Year

 January Cervical Cancer Awareness Month

More than 5,000 women have signed up for the expanded Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program since October 1, 2007 

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – During January, Cervical Cancer Awareness Month, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich is continuing his commitment to make sure all uninsured women in Illinois have access to breast and cervical cancer screenings and treatment by urging them to Take Charge,Get Screened. The Take Charge, Get Screened campaign calls on every woman to get screened regularly for breast and cervical cancer, noting early detection could save a life.

Effective October 1, 2007 Gov. Blagojevich made Illinois the first and only state in the country to make sure women who need access to potentially life-saving cancer screenings and treatment could get it by expanding the Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program (IBCCP) to all uninsured women in the state. This expansion makes it possible for more than 260,000 women in Illinois to qualify for free cancer screenings and treatment when they need them, regardless of income.

“Early detection of cervical cancer is the key to saving lives. That’s why we expanded the Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program, to make sure all uninsured women in our state have access to the screenings and treatment they need to stay healthy. I want every woman in Illinois to make a New Year’s resolution to get these life-saving screenings this year and every year in the future,” the Governor said.

Since the program was expanded to all uninsured women in October, more than 5,000 women have signed up to get life-saving screenings and treatment – an increase of 118 percent since the same period last year.

According to the National Cervical Cancer Coalition, about 10,000 women in the U.S. are diagnosed with cervical cancer each year and about 3,700 women die each year from this disease.

The latest data for Illinois shows in 2004, 555 women were diagnosed with cervical cancer. That same year, 196 women died of cervical cancer. In 2008, it is estimated that 590 women will be diagnosed with cervical cancer and approximately 210 women will die.

“Almost every cervical cancer death is preventable through early detection, treatment and follow-up. Families and friends don’t have to lose a loved one to cervical cancer and women don’t have to suffer if they take care of themselves and routinely get screened for cervical cancer,” said Illinois Department of Public Health Director, Damon T. Arnold.

“In order to reduce cervical cancer morbidity and morality in Illinois, increased awareness of cervical cancer and preventive health seeking behavior is needed.  We must work to increase awareness of cervical cancer preventive measures, including access to the HPV vaccine, among medical providers, health educators and consumers through educational, advocacy and legislative efforts,” said Stacie E. Geller, PhD, chair of the Illinois Cervical Cancer Elimination Task Force.

Under the newly expanded program, the IBCCP will now offer free pelvic exams and Pap tests to any uninsured women between the ages of 35-64 and free breast exams to any uninsured woman between the ages of 40-64. On a case-by-case basis, younger, symptomatic women who meet the guidelines are considered for the program. The screening program is free.

Launched in 1995, the Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program (IBCCP) has provided almost 183,000 screenings – more than 109,000 of those screenings have been provided since 2003 under the Blagojevich administration. Before the expansion, uninsured women only qualified if their incomes were under 250 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL), which is about $52,000 per year for a family of four.

Uninsured women diagnosed with breast or cervical cancer will qualify for comprehensive healthcare coverage provided by Healthcare and Family Services (HFS) as long as they need treatment for breast or cervical cancer. Women diagnosed with a pre-cancerous cervical cancer condition who need follow-up diagnostic tests will also qualify for HFS coverage to determine whether they actually have cervical cancer. Healthcare coverage will include doctor visits, inpatient and outpatient hospital care, emergency services, prescription drugs and more. Women who need treatment will pay modest co-payments for doctor visits, brand name prescription drugs and inpatient stays.

Women can find out how to get breast and cervical cancer screening and treatment by logging onto or by calling the Women’s Health-Line at 888-522-1282 or for TTY (hearing impaired use only), 800-547-0466. Information on IBCCP and other women’s health and programs can also be found on the IDPH website,

The Governor’s proclamation reads as follows:

WHEREAS, every years in the United States there are approximately 10,000 women diagnosed with and 3,700 women who die from cervical cancer; and

WHEREAS, in 2008, it is estimated in Illinois 590 women will be diagnosed and 210 women will die from cervical cancer; and

WHEREAS, most deaths from the disease could be avoided if women had regular checkups with the Pap test. Early detection significantly increases chances of survival. In fact, if detected early, cervical cancer is nearly 100 percent curable; and

WHEREAS, that is why I recently expanded the Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program, which made Illinois the first state in the nation to ensure that all women can get access to potentially life-saving cancer screenings and treatment; and

WHEREAS, at the same time, I also launched a Take Charge, Get Screened Campaign to aggressively reach out to women and urge them to take time to get the preventative screenings that could save their lives; and

WHEREAS, throughout January, public and private organizations and state and local governments all around the country will promote education about cervical cancer screenings, treatment and causes:

THEREFORE, I, Rod R. Blagojevich, Governor of the State of Illinois, do hereby proclaim January 2008 as CERVICAL CANCER AWARENESS MONTH in Illinois to raise awareness about cervical cancer and to encourage all women to get tested regularly for the disease.

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Illinois Department of Public Health
535 West Jefferson Street
Springfield, Illinois 62761
Phone 217-782-4977
Fax 217-782-3987
TTY 800-547-0466
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