SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich today announced Illinois has received a special award of $1.1 million from the federal government to ensure sufficient funding will be available through the end of the state’s fiscal year to provide free breast and cervical cancer screenings to eligible women.
“Studies have shown that early detection and prompt treatment can significantly reduce the suffering and disease caused by breast and cervical cancer,” Blagojevich said. “But because of the success of our program to reach low-income women, funding for screenings was running short. This grant will make sure no woman goes without services.”
The award from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) allows the state to avoid creating waiting lists for breast and cervical cancer services and permit an additional 5,000 women to be screened by the end of June. So far this fiscal year, 16,000 low-income women who have no health insurance and are between the ages of 35 and 64 have received screenings that may include free mammograms, breast examinations, Pap test and pelvic exams through the Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program administered by the Illinois Department of Public Health.
Women found to have cancer through this program are referred to the Illinois Department of Public Aid for help with treatment costs.
During fiscal year 2004, the state will spend nearly $11 million to fight breast and cervical cancer and the Governor has pledged to increase state support for the program by $2 million in his fiscal year 2005 budget. That proposed level of funding would provide screening and educational outreach services to 30,000 women.
“Illinois took the initiative to launch an outreach campaign targeting underserved women across Illinois, particularly African-Americans, Hispanics and those living in rural areas,” said Dr. Eric E. Whitaker, state public health director. “The overwhelming success of the campaign resulted in thousands more women being served. Greater access to screening services and increased education of women and health care providers is improving the quality of life for women by preventing unnecessary disease.”
Breast cancer is second only to lung cancer as a cause of death in women and the American Cancer Society has estimated that 750 new cases of cervical cancer will be detected in Illinois this year.
Women seeking more information about the Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program can call Public Health’s Women’s Health-Line at 888-522-1282 or 800-547-0466 for the hearing impaired.