Press Release

December 6, 2007

Governor Blagojevich announces three more health providers sign on to the newly-expanded Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program; Women now have more places to go for screening 

Governor also launches “Women Take Charge Night” effort to help women get vital information on cancer screenings and treatment

 More than 3,500 women have enrolled in the newly expanded Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program to get free breast and cervical cancer screening and treatment

OAK PARK, Ill. – Continuing his commitment to make sure all uninsured women in Illinois have access to free breast and cervical cancer screenings and treatment, Governor Rod. R. Blagojevich today welcomed three new health agencies to the Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program Network. Since the program was expanded to all uninsured women in October, more than 3,500 women have signed up to get life-saving screenings and treatment – an increase of 121% since the same period last year.

The Governor also teamed up with nationally recognized breast cancer organizations to launch “Women Take Charge Night” as part of his Take Charge, Get Screened campaign. “Women Take Charge Night” events are designed to create awareness about the newly expanded Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program (IBCCP), which now gives every uninsured woman in the state, regardless of income, access to free breast and cervical cancer screenings and treatment. This evening, hundreds of women will sign-up for the program at seven events across the State. The events are designed to be fun, educational evenings for women to learn more about the importance of breast and cervical cancer screenings and early detection. Partners include the American Cancer Society, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, and Y-Me National Breast Cancer Organization and the Illinois Department of Public Health.

“Breast and cervical cancer take the lives of thousands of our mothers, sisters and daughters every year. Early detection is key to saving lives. That’s why we expanded the Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program to make sure every woman in our state should be able to get the screening and treatment they need to stay healthy. With the new Take Charge, Get Screened campaign, we’re going to continue to aggressively reach out to women and urge them to take time to get the preventative screenings that could save their lives,” said Governor Blagojevich.

Beginning October 1st, 2007, Governor Blagojevich expanded the Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program, making Illinois the first state in the nation to provide access to all uninsured women who need screening and treatment and making over 260,000 more women eligible for the program. All uninsured women between the ages of 40 and 64 now qualify for mammograms and breast exams, and uninsured women between 35 and 64 now qualify for pelvic exams and Pap tests. On a case-by-case basis, younger, symptomatic women who meet the guidelines are considered for the program. The screening program is free.

“On behalf of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Chicagoland Affiliate, and the many women in the State of Illinois, and as a Breast Cancer Survivor who works with Breast Cancer patients at Alexian Brothers Cancer Institute, I am thrilled Governor Blagojevich has put womens health on the front burner and is helping to make Illinois a leader in the fight against Breast Cancer. The Governor has now made screening available to ALL women, but his efforts will be for nothing if we as women do not Take Charge and take responsibility for our own health by going in for our recommended screenings for health,” said Debbie Williams, RN, Susan G. Komen for the Cure. “There is no excuse for not being pro-active in our own health. The Governor has broken through a huge barrier for those women who could not afford it otherwise. "Take Charge" and take hold of your sister, friend, co-worker or other loved ones hand, encouraging her to do the same. You may save her life as well."

Due to the success of the expansion, three new health agencies have agreed to join the IBCCP starting on January 1, 2008. The agencies that have joined the state’s efforts to increase access to the new program are PCC Community Wellness Center in Oak Park, Chicago Family Health Center in Chicago and Howard Brown Health Center in Chicago. These agencies will help coordinate the program’s free screenings and treatment for thousands of Illinois women, especially in communities who need it. Six more health agencies are expected to join before the end of the year.

“ PCC Community Wellness Center is very proud to be named a lead agency of the IBCCP program,” says Robert Urso, President and CEO. “Community health centers like PCC serve as a critical safety net for women who are uninsured or underinsured. The women we serve face many barriers and are less likely to perform self breast examinations, less likely to have an annual mammogram and less likely to be diagnosed in the early stages of breast cancer. IBCCP has already helped screen thousands of women for breast cancer, and Governor Blagojevich understands that a woman’s access to life-saving health screenings shouldn’t depend on her income, where she lives, or her race or ethnicity.”

Since the expansion was announced on October 1st, more than 3,500 women have signed up for services through the program. This represents an increase of 121% compared to the same time period last year. Since Governor Blagojevich took office in 2003, more than 109,000 breast and cervical cancer screenings have been performed through the Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program for over 53,000 women. Since the program’s inception in 1995, more than 183,000 screenings have been performed.

The most recent statistics show 8,604 women in Illinois were diagnosed with breast or cervical cancer in 2003. That same year, 2,057 women in Illinois died from breast or cervical cancer. It is estimated that almost 9,000 women will be diagnosed with either breast or cervical cancer this year, and approximately 1,700 will die. But, when breast cancer is diagnosed early, the five-year survival rate is 98 percent.

"Although there has been significant progress in breast cancer survival, due to early detection screening and new treatment advances, thousands of women in Illinois were not able to benefit from these advances because they did not have access to care, or were unaware of the resources available,” said Adrienne White, Vice President, Health Initiatives and Advocacy American Cancer Society- Illinois. “Thanks to the expansion of IBBCP to include coverage for all uninsured women in Illinois, we are hopeful that one of the largest obstacles to care has now been removed. We encourage women to empower themselves to get their mammogram annually, and have cervical screenings regularly. If we embrace the concept of NO EXCUSES, we can make begin to end breast cancer disparities, and significantly reduce breast and cervical cancer mortality in Illinois."

“Given the budget cuts within Cook County that have closed clinics and slashed health care services creating an emergency health care crisis for the most needy of our community, particularly women and children, the expansion of the IBCCP’s screening is crucial to all women living in the state of Illinois. Y-ME Illinois will work within the Illinois communities to raise awareness of this vital program, and provide any support necessary to ensure that women are taking advantage of this life-saving opportunity,” said Nancy Amicangelo, CEO, Y-ME Illinois.

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 by clicking here.

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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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