SOS to provide cancer screening information

March 26, 1999


Secretary of State Candice S. Miller announced today that all 27 Secretary of State branch offices in Wayne County will distribute life-saving cancer screening information to uninsured and underinsured women, beginning April 1.


Secretary Miller said that her office is pleased to join with the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute in Detroit and the Michigan Department of Community Health in an unprecedented effort to screen more women for breast and cervical cancer.


Under the Breast and Cervical Cancer Control Program, cancer screenings are provided to women throughout Wayne County who are uninsured or underinsured. Although 90,000 women qualify for the federally funded program, only 2,000 have taken advantage of its services each year.


"The risk of dying from breast and cervical cancer is highest among low-income and minority women," Secretary Miller said today. "This program provides us with an excellent opportunity to get much-needed cancer-prevention information to a segment of the population that will benefit greatly from it."


The Karmanos Cancer Institute would like to increase the number of women participating in the program to 5,000 each year. More than 1,600 Michigan women die from breast cancer and another 160 women die from cervical cancer every year.


Secretary Miller explained that deaths due to breast cancer are dropping among white women but not among African-American women. Furthermore, African-American women are twice as likely to die from cervical cancer as white women.


In addition, women in racial and ethnic minorities, those who did not graduate from high school, and those living at or below the poverty level are least likely to take advantage of other life-saving screening procedures such as mammography and Pap smears.


The program targets qualifying women between the ages of 40 and 64. Services include breast exams, mammograms, Pap smears, pelvic exams and related follow-up testing, yearly appointments and education.


Secretary Miller added that fear of a cancer diagnosis, transportation and child-care issues as well as communication barriers prevent these high-risk women from seeking the services they need.


"Regular screenings such as mammograms and Pap smears can reduce deaths from breast cancer as much as 30 percent and virtually eliminate cervical cancer deaths in women over age 40," Secretary Miller said. "When such simple and cost-effective measures can significantly save so many more lives, we must do everything we can to make sure people are aware that help is available."


In 1991 the Michigan Department of Community Health received a multi-year federal grant from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to establish the Breast and Cervical Cancer Control Program throughout the state. Funding for Wayne County is administered by the Karmanos Cancer Institute.