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Early breast cancer detection program reopens
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The breast cancer screening program for low-income women that was put on a hiatus after state budget cuts, is now back in operation again after new funding came through.

The Every Woman Counts program, run through the California Department of Public Health, re-opened enrollment for women age 40 years and older, effective Dec. 1.

The Every Woman Counts program provides low-income women with breast cancer screening at age 40 and older and cervical cancer screening at age 25 and older. It was established by the federal Breast and Cervical Cancer Mortality Prevention Act of 1990 and re-affirmed with California’s Breast Cancer Act of 1993.

On average, the program served 350,000 women a year, helping an untold number of women each year with early detection.

The program was forced to make deep cuts over the last year because of the state’s troubled finances and declining revenue from the tobacco tax, which help fund the program.

As a result, the program had to stop screening women 40 to 49 years old and closed all new enrollment of women age 50 years and over through July 2010.

According to the Susan G. Komen foundation, 17 percent of breast cancer cases occur in women in their 40s.

However, as a result of a $20 million budget augmentation approved by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Legislature, as well as additional savings realized from programmatic changes and efficiencies, the Every Woman Counts program is now able to reopen enrollment.

“Our top priority is to provide breast cancer screening services to as many low-income California women as possible under the Every Woman Counts program,” said CDPH Director Dr. Mark Horton. “We are very pleased to be able to reopen the program to qualifying low-income women age 40 and older. Early detection can save a life, and I strongly encourage all eligible women to take advantage of this service.” 

To be eligible for the screening, women must be California residents age 40 or older, meet income standards, and either be uninsured or underinsured. Women can call the program's toll free number to determine if they are eligible at (800) 511-2300.

To contact Sabra Stafford, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2002.