SACRAMENTO, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Responding to Governor Brown’s announced revised budget, breast cancer survivors and advocates from across the state stressed the importance of early detection.
“We are fortunate that Governor Brown recognizes the importance of the Every Woman Counts program, and the life-saving and cost-effective services the program provides. We fully understand the tough economic situation our state faces and the difficult choices the Governor and our state legislature must make,” said Jamie Ledezma, Chair of the Komen California Collaborative. “Yet we also know first-hand how important this program is to the thousands of women in our state who find themselves with nowhere else to turn for the cancer screenings that may save their lives. For many women, the state’s screening program ensures that a lost job or lost insurance doesn’t result in a lost life.”
The breast cancer screening program, Every Woman Counts (EWC), is part of the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (NBCCEDP), a federal/state partnership to ensure that low-income women who would normally fall through the cracks in our health care system receive access to potentially life-saving cancer screenings. EWC is essential for detecting cancers early, which is key to surviving the disease. The 5-year survival rate for breast cancer when found early is 98 percent, but plummets to 23 percent when the cancer has spread to other parts of the body.
In January 2010, the California Department of Public Health (DPH) shut the EWC’s doors for the remainder of the fiscal year and closed access to the program for women ages 40 to 49. That last cut was particularly troubling because almost half of the women screened by EWC are in their 40’s. After months without access to breast cancer screenings, the DPH officially reopened the doors to EWC on December 1, 2010. During the intervening period, thousands of women lost access to cancer screenings. This year, the number of women EWC will serve has swelled to 393,000 and the program will need every funding dollar possible to provide life-saving and cost-effective early detection breast cancer screenings.
“As partners in the community, we want to ensure that we address our financial challenges in a careful manner, mindful of the consequences of each decision,” said Ledezma. “It’s both good public health policy and good economic policy to focus on prevention and early detection measures, so that we begin treatment early, when it’s more successfully and cost effectively treated.”
Komen cautions that cutting early detection services would cost the state more in health care costs in the long-run. Without the assistance of EWC, many of these underserved women will delay or completely forego recommended screenings, leading to later diagnoses, larger tumors at diagnosis, fewer and more costly treatment options and lower chances for survival. In fact, it is five times more expensive to treat late staged cancers than breast cancers that are discovered early.
“These women will not just disappear if screening is cut – and neither will their cancers,” said Ledezma. “They will show up later at our public hospitals with cancers that have grown and spread, requiring far more costly treatment – costs that we will all still ultimately have to bear.”
Komen is joining Legislative Women’s Caucus members and their colleagues to host the 2nd Annual “Bake Sale for the Cure” at the State Capitol to raise funds and awareness for breast cancer screening, treatment and education on Monday, May 23, 2011, from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm on the North Steps of the State Capitol.