Pa. Department of Health reminds women of important breast and cervical cancer screenings


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HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — During Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the Pa. Department of Health is emphasizing the importance of women getting screened for breast and cervical cancer and the resources available to get the earliest detection.

The Health Dept. says the state has seen many postpone these check-ups during COVID-19, and that breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer in women in the state. It is also the second leading cause of cancer death in women.

“Throughout this month, we wear pink to draw attention to breast cancer awareness and honor those who have fought breast cancer,” Acting Secretary of Health Alison Beam said. “Pink should remind us that we are not alone and there is support and programs available to ensure you have access to screenings.”

In Pa., it’s been shown white women are slightly more likely to develop breast cancer than African American women, but that African American women are more likely to die.

While cervical cancer is not as common, it has a lower survival rate. The state says black women are more likely to develop and die from it than white women.

To provide early detection and prevention, the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force recommends women under 40 be screened if they have symptoms or are high risk, those 40-49 get screened every two years if necessary and women over 50 get screened every two years.

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The Pa. Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (PA-BCCEDP) is a free early detection program funded by the Dept. of Health through a grant from the CDC. This program provides free services for those in low-income households or are uninsured. These services include mammograms, MRIs, Pap and HPV tests and follow-up diagnostic appointments.

PA-BCCEDP has been able to help almost 100,000 women and diagnosed over 4,800 women with breast and cervical cancer since 1994. During this fiscal year, the program helped detect cervical and breast cancer in 113 people among almost 7,000 who are a part of the program.

During Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the Pa. Breast Cancer Coalition hosted an event to turn the Capitol fountain pink. And the Pa. Commission for Women held a virtual event with Acting Secretary Beam and Acting Physician General Dr. Denise Johnson to provide education about early detection and PA-BCCEDP.

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