Health officials with the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) today celebrate the 20th annual West Virginia Breast Cancer Awareness Day, reminding residents to take advantage of free or low-cost breast and cervical cancer screening offered by DHHR.
“As a breast cancer survivor, I know that a mammogram saved my life,” said Dr. Letitia Tierney, State Health Officer and Commissioner for the Bureau for Public Health. “I want to encourage women to be vigilant and take advantage of the cancer prevention programs that are available. Breast cancer will continue to affect West Virginia women, with more than 1,340 expected to be diagnosed in 2014 alone. This means that out of every eight women you know, one will be diagnosed at some point in their life. Although mortality rates are decreasing, an estimated 289 women in our state will die from breast cancer this year.”
DHHR’s West Virginia Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening Program (WVBCCSP) provides free or low-cost mammograms, clinical breast exams, and Pap tests to women who qualify. The WVBCCSP was one of the first four programs funded under the Federal Breast and Cervical Cancer Mortality Prevention Act of 1990. For nearly 24 years, the WVBCCSP has been providing critical services to West Virginia women to prevent unnecessary disease and premature death due to breast and cervical cancer.
“We know many women fear getting a mammogram or Pap test,” said Tierney. “We have to encourage our family, friends and neighbors to take advantage of preventive programs that can ultimately save their life if cancer is detected early.”
Women age 40 and older should have a mammogram at least every two years. Women ages 30-39 should talk with their health care provider about the screening schedule that best fits their needs and risk profile. Clinical breast exams by a physician or nurse are recommended every three years for women in their 20s and 30s and every year for women 40 and over. For more information about the screening program, call your local health department or the DHHR’s WVBCCSP at 1-800-642-8522, or visit the WVBCCSP online at www.wvdhhr.org/bccsp
Toby D. Wagoner ■ Public Information Officer ■ Bureau for Public Health ■ Phone: (304) 356-4042 ■ E-mail: Toby.D.Wagoner@WV.Gov