Every year around the world, the month of October is dedicated to highlighting the importance of breast cancer prevention, awareness, education, and research. Breast cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers in the U.S. and the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Arizona.  Sadly, female breast cancer is the fourth-leading cause of cancer death in Arizona.

Early detection saves lives.  Many women with breast cancer have no symptoms, so it’s important not to postpone your regular cancer screening. 

This year, the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program marks 30 years as the only cancer screening program in the United States. Funded in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, five U.S. territories, and 11 American Indian/Alaska Native tribes or tribal organizations, it helps low-income, uninsured, and underserved women gain access to lifesaving screening programs for early detection of breast and cervical cancers. The early detection program provides clinical breast examinations, mammograms, and Pap tests for eligible women who participate in the program as well as diagnostic testing for women whose screening outcome is abnormal.

In Arizona, it’s known as the Well Woman HealthCheck Program. Launched in 1993, it began screening women for breast and cervical cancer in 1995 and has provided nearly 114,000 mammograms, screened more than 65,200 women, and diagnosed 1,072 breast cancers in women who likely could not otherwise afford these services.

For a list of screening locations, contact the cancer screening location in your county to see if you qualify. In addition to receiving screening and diagnostic services, women diagnosed with cancer may be eligible for treatment under the Breast and Cervical Cancer Treatment Program under Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS), Arizona’s Medicaid program.

You can help provide vital breast and cervical cancer screening and diagnostic services to uninsured women throughout Arizona by purchasing a specialty Pink Ribbon/Cancer Awareness License PlateProceeds from the specialty plate support Arizona’s Well Woman HealthCheck Program.

For more information on the 30th anniversary of this lifesaving national program, please visit nbccedp30.vfairs.com.