Breast Cancer in the United States
Breast cancer is the second most commonly diagnosed cancer and the second-leading cause of cancer death in women. In 2018, an estimated 266,120 women will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer, and approximately 40,920 women are expected to die from the disease. Many of these deaths could be avoided if breast cancer screening rates increased among women at risk.
Mammography screening is currently considered the most effective way of reducing breast cancer mortality and increasing the odds of survival. Mammograms take an x-ray of breast tissue to look for abnormalities. Technology has improved greatly, enhancing imaging and exposing tissue to less radiation. It is important for women, particularly those at higher risk for the disease, to follow recommended screening guidelines to detect breast cancer at an early stage when survival rates are highest.
Cervical Cancer in the United States
In 2018, an estimated 13,240 women are expected to be diagnosed with cervical cancer, and 4,170 women will die from the disease. Like breast cancer, many of these deaths could be avoided if cervical cancer screening rates increased among women at risk.
Nearly all cervical cancers are preventable. Regular screening – using the Pap and human papillomavirus (HPV) DNA tests – can detect precancerous lesions early when survival rates are
the highest. Increased utilization of the Pap and HPV DNA test has resulted in a steady decline in both incidence and mortality rates for cervical cancer over the past several decades.
Improving Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening Rates
The Affordable Care Act is helping to improve insurance coverage, raise awareness, and reduce the costs of breast and cervical cancer screenings for women by requiring private insurers, Medicare, and Medicaid expansion programs to cover routine preventive services at no cost to the patient. However, millions of underinsured and uninsured women across the country still do not have access to these lifesaving screenings. Low-income women, particularly minorities, often face later stage cancer diagnoses; have less access to diagnostic and treatment services; and lower survival rates.
National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (NBCCEDP) – Closing the Gaps
Congress established the NBCCEDP in 1990 to reduce breast and cervical cancer deaths among medically underserved women, including low-income, uninsured, and underinsured women. Administered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the NBCCEDP provides public education and outreach; patient navigation; case management; breast and cervical cancer screenings; and diagnostic services to women. Additionally, states have the option to provide women screened and diagnosed through the program access to treatment services through the state Medicaid program.
Available in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, six US territories, and 13 American Indian/Alaska Native tribes or tribal organizations, NBCCEDP has provided over 12.7 million screening exams to more than 5.3 million women, detecting over 63,200 invasive breast cancers, over 4,300 invasive cervical cancers, and nearly 200,000 premalignant cervical lesions.
The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) and its advocates are committed to increasing both federal and state funding that supports the NBCCEDP to ensure that all mothers, daughters, sisters, and wives have access to lifesaving cancer screenings and treatments.