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Reauthorization Of Breast And Cervical Cancer Program Gives Thousands Of Women Access To Life-Saving Early Detection

Armen Hareyan's picture

For the past four years, Susan G. Komen for the Cure have tirelessly advocated for reauthorization of the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program.

On March 29, the United States Congress passed the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program Reauthorization Act of 2007, ensuring thousands of low-income women have access to high-quality breast and cervical screening, which they likely would not otherwise have.

Komen for the Cure has worked alongside the Administration and Congress since 2003 to ensure the inclusion of a waiver allowing a select number of states additional flexibility in funding outreach and education, as well as the possibility to tailor the program to meet the demographic needs in their state, without reducing the number of women screened.

"The reauthorization of the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program is a testament to the power of advocacy. For the past four years, the activists of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, working alongside our passionate elected officials, have raised their voices to speak for those who are often silenced and ensured that thousands of women have access to early detection, which could help save their lives," said Komen Vice President of Public Policy Diane Balma. "Komen for the Cure remains fiercely committed to elevating breast cancer on the national agenda in order to close the gaps in access to quality breast health care."

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Bipartisan support was a key to the NBCCEDP reauthorization, and Komen applauds Congress for their efforts, particularly the leadership of bill sponsors Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX), Representative Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Representative Sue Myrick (R-NC). Komen also recognizes the committee leadership: Chairman Ted Kennedy (D-MA) and Ranking Member Mike Enzi (R-WY) of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, and Chairman John Dingell (D-MI) and Ranking Member Joe Barton (R-TX) of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Because NBCCEDP covers less than one in five eligible women, Komen for the Cure and its 125 Affiliates leverage the program's funding and last year contributed $58 million in additional resources for screening, education, outreach, case management and treatment services in communities around the country.

Komen Champions for the Cure(TM) use the power of activism to achieve important legislative objectives at federal, state and local levels. Champions work to cultivate and maintain strong relationships with decision- makers and community leaders. In this way, activists have helped secure increases in federal funding for the NBCCEDP, as well as more than $10 million in state funding for state breast cancer screening and treatment programs. Through a virtual advocacy forum at ActNowEndBreastCancer.org, online activists have sent tens of thousands of letters to their elected representatives in support of key breast cancer public policy issues.

As there is no cure for breast cancer and no known way to prevent it, early detection is key to survival. In fact, when breast cancer is confined to the breast, the five-year relative survival rate is 98 percent. What's more, timely screening mammograms, such as those provided through NBCCEDP, could prevent 15 to 30 percent of all deaths from breast cancer in women over age 40.

Unfortunately, many low-income and minority women lack access to breast cancer screening and treatment services. Institute of Medicine studies report that low-income women have lower screening rates, are 41 percent more likely to be diagnosed with late-stage breast cancer and are three times more likely to die from breast cancer. Similarly, uninsured women are more likely to receive a late-stage breast cancer diagnosis and are 30 to 50 percent more likely to die from the disease than women with insurance.

Since its establishment in 1991, NBCCEDP has screened more than 2.7 million women and diagnosed 26,000 breast cancers, 88,000 precursor cervical lesions, and 1,700 invasive cervical cancers. The program is administered by the Centers for Disease Control, and now operates in all 50 states, four U.S. territories, the District of Columbia, and 13 American Indian and Alaska Native organizations.