FRANKFORT, Ky. (May 13, 2004) – The Kentucky Women’s Cancer Screening Program (KWCSP) has chosen National Women’s Health Week to once again encourage women in the Commonwealth to get a mammogram and a Pap test. All too often women care for so many people in their lives, they often don’t get the preventive health care they need to take care of themselves.
National Women’s Health week is May 9–15.
The screening program, operated through local health departments in all 120 Kentucky counties, offers income-based breast and cervical cancer screening to women who are uninsured or underinsured. These services include mammograms, clinical breast exams, breast self-examination instruction, Pap tests, and pelvic exams.
“It is clear that breast cancer screening programs have found breast cancers very early when they are most treatable. We know that early detection saves lives,” said Catherann Key, Program Director for the KWCSP. “The screening program has identified at least 247 women who were treated for breast or cervical cancer or pre-cancer since October of 2002.”
Key said the KWCSP provides mammograms for women age 40 and older. This practice follows the guidelines of the American Cancer Society, which recommend a mammogram every year for women over 40 years of age.
Breast cancer is one of the leading causes of death among women in Kentucky. There are about 3,000 new cases of breast cancer in the Commonwealth each year, and about 600 Kentucky women die each year from the disease. Early detection and prompt treatment of breast cancer can significantly reduce the suffering and death caused by the disease.
First Lady Glenna Fletcher said it’s especially important for women 65 and older to be screened.
“We will encourage women 65 and older to obtain routine breast cancer screening in accordance with nationally recognized guidelines. This group of women comprises approximately half of the breast cancer cases detected each year,” the First Lady said. “The rate of breast cancer increases fourfold as women live to be 70 and 80. Our initiative to encourage better screening for early detection will improve our victory against breast cancer because early screening, detection, and treatment create breast cancer survivors.”
A former nurse, Mrs. Fletcher is an advocate of Healthy Kentucky Legislation, an initiative that would assess health problems plaguing our state and then create a plan of action for improvement.
Key said because of a strong public education effort and effective professional education, Kentucky women are getting the message that mammograms are important. In 2003, 16,825 women received these valuable tests through their local health departments. This was slightly less than the 17,441 participants in 2002.
Nationally, cervical cancer deaths have declined significantly in recent years, as the disease is preventable or curable if it is detected early. Early detection depends on regular Pap testing. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cervical cancer rates are higher among older women. However, dysplasia - abnormal cells on the cervix, which can turn into cancer - is most common among younger women. “This makes it very important that we expand our outreach to older women for Pap tests and continue our efforts in trying to reach younger women,” Key said.
Obesity and tobacco use have been linked to cervical cancer. Physicians recommend women stop smoking and adopt a healthy exercise routine and nutritious diet. The American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends five servings of fruits and vegetables every day as well as plenty of whole grains, and 30 minutes of moderate exercise five days a week.
As of Oct. 1, 2002, Kentucky’s Department for Medicaid Services added coverage with special eligibility processes to enroll women requiring treatment for breast or cervical cancer or pre-cancerous conditions. Women with income of up to 250 percent of the federal poverty level may be eligible. (250 percent of the federal poverty level for a family of four is $47,125.)
Information about breast and cervical cancer can be found at www.cancer.org. For more information about the Kentucky Women’s Cancer Screening Program, call Catherann Key, Program Manager at (502) 564-7996. For questions about where to get a mammogram or Pap test, call your local health department or call toll-free 1-800-462-6122.