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DOH Emphasizes Breast and Cervical Cancer Screenings

October 21, 2022

This month, the Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) is emphasizing the importance of breast and cervical cancer screenings and the free services available in the state.

Breast and cervical cancer often have no symptoms, so screening is an essential tool, department officials said.

“Now is the time to make sure you are practicing self-care, and that includes getting your screenings done,” said Dr. Denise Johnson, Pennsylvania’s acting secretary of health and physician general.

The DOH is urging those who delayed scheduled screenings due to COVID-19 to make an appointment to catch up on those prevention efforts. The department noted that breast cancer is the most frequent type of cancer in women in the state, and the second leading cause of cancer death in women. Cervical cancer is not as common, but has a lower survival rate.

The United States Preventive Services Task Force recommends the following screening guidelines for breast cancer: 

  • Screening under 40:  Should occur if patients have symptoms or are at high risk 
  • Between 40 and 49:  Screening should occur every two years if the patient and the health care provider decide it is necessary
  • 50 and older:  Screening should occur every two years

The department also notes that patients should talk with their medical provider to determine if they are at high risk because of family history, a breast condition, or any other reason.

The Pennsylvania Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (PA-BCCEDP) is a state initiative offering free services, such as mammograms, MRIs, Pap and HPV tests, and follow-up tests for those who are eligible. The program has provided more than 105,000 screenings and diagnosed 4,946 breast and cervical cancers since 1994. The eligibility requirements are related to age, residency, income, and insurance status.

During Breast Cancer Awareness Month, HAP joins the DOH to highlight the importance of early detection and screening. Additional information from the DOH is available online.