Free screening for breast, cervical cancer available in state

PHOENIX – In an effort to detect and possibly prevent breast and cervical cancers in the early stages, the Arizona Department of Health Services' Well Woman Healthcheck Program is offering a gift certificate incentive to the first 1,000 women who qualify for and complete a comprehensive screening.

Well Woman Healthcheck provides free clinical breast exams, mammograms, pelvic exams and pap tests for women 40 and older, uninsured or under insured, who do not exceed certain income guidelines.

Services are provided at selected health care centers, private physician offices and hospitals statewide.

The first 1,000 qualified women will receive a $10 food gift certificate to any Bashas' grocery store as an extra incentive.

"We want women to overcome their barriers to screening by taking the fear out of cancer diagnosis, lack of transportation, language and cultural differences and lack of physician referral," said Virginia Warren, program director for Well Woman Healthcheck.

"We also want women who cannot afford health insurance or Medicare to recognize the importance of these cancer screenings to preserve their health and well-being."

To find out if you may qualify for the program, call toll free (888) 257-8502.

"We know that if breast cancer is detected early, the five-year survival rate exceeds 95 percent," said Kay Chavez, Well Woman Healthcheck program coordinator for Mohave and LaPaz counties.

"We are prepared to assist as many women as possible in obtaining these screenings.

Each year, we hope to screen more women than in the past year."

Chavez can be contacted at (928) 680-1468.

In 2003, the American Cancer Society estimated 3,900 new cases of breast cancer would be diagnosed among women in Arizona and that only 190 women in the state receive a diagnosis annually of cervical cancer.

Currently, about 500 women a month take advantage of the program in Arizona.