A legislative initiative to ensure women have access to life-saving breast and cervical cancer treatment has helped thousands of Oklahomans. That’s according to State Sen. Debbe Leftwich, co-author of the legislation creating the Breast and Cervical Cancer Treatment Program. Leftwich is also Co-chair of Oklahoma’s Cancer Caucus.
“This program went into effect on January 1, 2005. As of today, we’ve helped nearly 8,000 women who would not have otherwise had access to treatment for breast and cervical cancer,” said Leftwich, D-Oklahoma City. “The bottom line is we’re saving lives. What great news to celebrate during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.”
In 1997, the State Health Department began breast and cervical cancer screening. That program screened more than 6,000 women last year—that’s compared to about 4,100 the previous year. Leftwich said more women have been served because of an increase in state funding.
“Because of additional appropriations, women across the state now have greater access to screening,” Leftwich said. “We’ve been able to increase the amount of providers since the program began from seven to more than fifty. This means more women have greater access to the early detection that can save their lives.”
In order to be eligible for the Breast and Cervical Cancer Treatment Program, women must be screened for breast or cervical cancer under the Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program and found to be in need of treatment. The program is available to women between the ages of 19 and 65 who have no creditable health insurance coverage or other available insurance providing breast or cervical cancer services, including Medicaid. There are also income limits for the screening program.