Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine today emphasized the importance of continuing breast and cervical cancer screenings during the COVID-19 pandemic. The state has seen many women and transgender individuals postpone these essential screenings due to COVID-19.
“Regular screening for certain types of cancer, including breast and cervical cancer, are essential to good health and can save lives,” Levine said. “Although breast cancer screening cannot prevent breast cancer, it can help find breast cancer early when it is easier to treat. It is imperative that all women talk with their health care provider about cancer screening tests to find which one is best, and when they should have them.”
The Pennsylvania Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (PA-BCCEDP) is a free breast and cervical cancer early detection program funded by the department through a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Free services, like mammograms, MRIs, pap and HPV tests, and follow-up diagnostic tests for abnormal screening results are available for those who are eligible.
Eligible people include those with low or moderate income, those who are uninsured or underinsured, and those who meet certain age requirements. PA-BCCEDP clinics throughout the state are open and following the CDC guidelines for safe operations during the pandemic.
The United States Preventive Services Task Force recommends the following screening guidelines for breast cancer:
Women under the age of 40 should be screened if they have symptoms or are at high risk; women ages 40 to 49 should be screened every two years, based on a decision between the patient and the healthcare provider; and women 50 and older should be screened every two years.
It is important to know that these guidelines apply if you have an average risk for breast cancer. If you have a high risk because of family history, a breast condition or any other reason, you should consult your medical provider. PA-BCCEDP will cover annual mammograms for women of any age based on the decision of the woman and her provider.
For more information on breast cancer or the free breast and cervical cancer early detection program, visit www.health.pa.gov or follow the Department of Health on Facebook and Twitter.