Breast and Cervical Cancer Project Offers Free Screening and Treatment

Many uninsured and underinsured women forgo potentially life-saving breast and cervical cancer screening simply because they think they can’t afford it.

Too many aren’t aware of the Breast and Cervical Cancer Project (BCCP), a grant program through the Ohio Department of Health that offers free breast and cervical cancer screenings and treatment for uninsured women in 16 southwestern Ohio counties. Premier Community Health administers the vitally needed screening and diagnostic program, which provided free screenings to 1,300 women in 2018 alone.

BCCP program manager Shari Martin hopes providers can help to get the word out. “Research shows the number one factor that gets people to do their preventive screenings is a recommendation from their physicians,” Martin says.

Covered services include mammograms, both screening and diagnostic; Pap tests; breast biopsies; breast ultrasounds; clinical breast exams; pelvic exams; and surgical consultations. To qualify, women must be low-income and without health care insurance; age 21 and older for Pap tests and clinical breast exams; and age 40 to 65 for screening mammograms. Underinsured women who have high deductibles might be eligible for Premier Community Health’s voucher program.

“We know, historically, that a lot of women don’t follow through with preventive screening because of a lack of insurance,” Martin says. “And that’s unfortunate because early detection is always best. Screenings can prevent a cancer from developing or catch it early so it can be treated more effectively.”

Women diagnosed with cancer through BCCP are eligible to apply for Medicaid to cover the cost of treatment. “Many women experience a great deal of stress,” Martin says. “They have no idea how to pay for services, or how they will survive, or whether they will have to quit working.”

After diagnosis, the BCCP pairs each patient with a cancer navigator who connects them with providers, social workers, financial counselors, and other community and educational resources and helps coordinate their follow-up tests and treatment.

“Sometimes the scariest part is the unknown, and we try to fill in the blanks for them so they aren't left wondering,” Martin says. “We can’t take away the diagnosis, but we can reduce the anxiety.”

The BCCP staff stays with patients every step of the way. “We check on them regularly to make sure there aren’t any glitches, because we don’t want treatment to stop,” Martin says.

Patients often simply need someone to listen to them or help them to work through their questions. “We love the women we serve, and we try to be responsive to whatever their need is,” Martin says. “And they are so grateful.”

Providers with questions about the BCCP can call (866) 838-8973(866) 608-3463.

Back to the February 2019 issue of Premier Pulse

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