COLUMBIA, S.C. - With Breast Cancer Awareness Month underway, the American Cancer Society (ACS) and the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) are taking the opportunity to remind the public about the importance of breast and cervical cancer screenings.
According to the ACS, 3,750 South Carolina women will be diagnosed with breast cancer and 670 will die from the disease this year. With the goal of saving lives, the Best Chance Network (BCN) program offers breast and cervical cancer screenings at no cost to women who have no health insurance, are between the ages of 40 and 64, and who meet certain income guidelines. DHEC partners with the South-Atlantic Division of the ACS and more than 250 health care providers in every county of the state to coordinate cancer screenings for these undeserved women.
"One of the most critical tools in the fight against breast and cervical cancer is early detection," said Virginie Daguise, PhD and Director of the DHEC Cancer Division. "Through increasing awareness of the importance of breast and cervical cancer screenings, BCN provides low-income women across the state with vital access to lifesaving services."
"The Greenville Free Medical Clinic is delighted to have partnered with BCN for many years to increase the access for breast and cervical cancer screenings to additional low-income uninsured women throughout Greenville County," said Suzie Foley, Executive Director of Greenville Free Medical Clinic. "There have been numerous cases of breast or cervical cancer detected through these Best Chance screenings, and the patients have then been able to receive the treatments that they need. This partnership has allowed us to enhance the women's health preventive health component of our health services."
In its 24th year, BCN has provided more than 101,423 eligible women with breast and cervical cancer screening, assisting over 11,000 this year alone.
The most recent incidence data (2011) indicates that more than 60% of women in South Carolina are diagnosed at an early stage when the cancer is most treatable. In 2011, the incidence rate was 122.7 per 100,000 women and the mortality rate was 24.4 per 100,000 women.
"St. James-Santee Family Health Center has been a longstanding provider with the BCN and the ACS for 25 years," said Myra Pinckney, LPC, RN, Case Manager at the St. James-Santee Family Health Center. "The interventions of BCN and ACS save lives by increasing awareness and reducing out-of-pocket costs for health maintenance behaviors. BCN makes it possible for women to make informed decisions about health care; thereby, increasing screening rates for early detection of cancer, decreasing mortality rates, and optimizing wellness in rural communities of South Carolina."
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women, no matter their race or ethnicity. In addition, it is the second most common cause of death from cancer among women in South Carolina and nationwide.
This year the BCN received $1 million in state appropriated funds to help provide greater support. By providing access to early detection and treatment services, the program aims to help more women in South Carolina win their battle against cancer.
For more information, call the American Cancer Society at 1-800-227-2345, and ask about the South Carolina Best Chance Network, or visit http://www.scdhec.gov/Health/DiseasesandConditions/Cancer/FreeCancerScreenings/.
Public Information Officer