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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 26, 2015

DHEC and ACS Working Together to Help More Women Access Breast Cancer Screenings

COLUMBIA, S.C. - With Breast Cancer Awareness Month under way, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) and the American Cancer Society (ACS) are taking the opportunity to remind the public about the importance of breast and cervical cancer screenings.

According to the ACS, 3,820 South Carolina women will be diagnosed with breast cancer and 690 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 or only have hospitalization 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 400 health care providers in every county of the state to coordinate cancer screenings for these underserved women.

"Early detection is of paramount importance to the successful identification and treatment of breast cancer," said Stephanie Hinton, director of DHEC's Division of Cancer and Control. "Now in our 25th year, we are delighted that the program continues to grow and provide eligible women across the state with vital access to lifesaving services."

In its 25th year, BCN has provided more than 155,000 eligible women with breast and cervical cancer screening, assisting more than 11,000 this past year alone.

"Carolina Health Centers, Inc. is proud to be able to partner with the Best Chance Network," said Darlene Hood-Johnson, care coordinator for Laurens County Community Care Center. "They have been a great resource in our service area, including: Laurens, Greenwood, Abbeville, McCormick, and Saluda. Through BCN we have been able to offer needed prevention and early detection services to hundreds of women. Many of our patients have been identified through the screenings as having cancer and have been able to receive treatment in a timely manner, saving lives. Our patients, their families, and our staff are very grateful to BCN for their service to our community."

The most recent incidence data (2012) indicates that more than 62 percent of women in South Carolina are diagnosed at an early stage when the cancer is most treatable. In 2012, the incidence rate was 127.2 per 100,000 women and the mortality rate was 22.0 per 100,000 women.

"North Central Family Medical Center has had the pleasure of partnering and participating with the Best Chance Network and ACS for many years," said Sandy Wilson, special project manager at North Central Family Medical Center. "We have assisted with providing cervical and breast screenings and detections for many uninsured and underinsured women, who otherwise would not get these annual preventive services. Thanks to the BCN and ACS, North Central and its providers are "making a difference" in women's health in the Rock Hill and surrounding areas 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.

"Community Medical Clinic of Kershaw County­­­­ is delighted to have partnered with BCN for 15 years to increase the access for breast and cervical cancer screenings to additional low-income uninsured women throughout Kershaw County," said Susan Witkowski, executive director of Community Medical Clinic of Kershaw County. "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. "

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 BCN.

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Cassandra Harris
Public Information Officer
harriscs@dhec.sc.gov
803.898.1127