Press Release

January 8, 2009


Governor Blagojevich Urges Women to get Screened During January - Cervical Cancer Awareness Month

Risk of cervical cancer twice as great for women who smoke

CHICAGO, Ill. Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today declared January Cervical Cancer Awareness Month in Illinois and is urging all women, especially women who smoke, to get screened regularly for cervical cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, women who smoke are almost twice as likely as non-smokers to develop cervical cancer.

“It is important for all women to be routinely screened for cervical cancer because early detection is the key to survival,” said Governor Blagojevich. “Women who smoke need to know that they are increasing their risk of developing cervical cancer. This is a perfect time to make a resolution to put your health first and get routine cervical cancer screenings.”

Smoking exposes the body to many cancer-causing chemicals, which are absorbed by the lungs and carried in the bloodstream throughout the body. The American Cancer society reports that tobacco byproducts have been found in the cervical mucus of women who smoke. Researchers believe these substances damage the DNA of cervix cells and may contribute to the development of cervical cancer.

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

The latest data for Illinois shows that 560 women were diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2005. That same year, 183 women died of cervical cancer. In 2009 it is estimated that 590 women in Illinois will be diagnosed with cervical cancer and approximately 200 women will die from it.

“Almost every cervical cancer death is preventable through early detection, treatment and follow-up. Women who do not receive regular pap tests are most at risk for cervical cancer,” said Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) Director, Damon T. Arnold. “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.”

“In order to reduce cervical cancer morbidity and mortality 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 through educational, advocacy and legislative efforts to medical providers, health educators policy makers and consumers,” said Stacie E. Geller, PhD, chair of the Illinois Cervical Cancer Elimination Task Force.

The Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program (IBCCP) offers free pelvic exams and Pap tests to any uninsured woman 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.

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 Web site,

The text of the Governor’s proclamation follows:


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




in 2009, it is estimated in Illinois 590 women will be diagnosed and 200 women will die from cervical cancer; and




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




that is why I 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




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 2009 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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