After Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) made Illinois the firstand onlystate in the country to offer free breast and cervical cancer screenings and treatment to all uninsured women, administration officials are taking the message to communities around the state.
The Take Charge, Get Screened campaign calls on every woman to get screened, noting early detection could save a life.
Joined by cancer survivors, health officials and advocates at the Winnebago County Health Center, state Public Health Director Dr. Damon T. Arnold encouraged women to take charge of their health and get breast and cervical cancer screenings during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Effective Oct. 1, Blagojevich expanded the Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program (IBCCP) to all uninsured women in Illinois. 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.
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, according to the American Cancer Society. The survival rate drops to 26 percent when breast cancer is diagnosed later and it has progressed.
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.
Uninsured women diagnosed with breast or cervical cancer will qualify for comprehensive health care 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 breast or cervical cancer. Health care 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 on to www.cancerscreening.illinois.gov or by calling the Womens Health-Line at 888-522-1282 or for TTY (hearing impaired use only), 800-547-0466. Information about IBCCP and other womens health and programs can also be found at www.idph.state.il.us.
from the Oct. 10, 2007, issue