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New program allows low-income and uninsured women to get free cancer screenings

Jun 08, 2022

image_of_woman_getting_mammogram

VCU Health is now offering free breast and cervical cancer screening services to low-income and uninsured women in Virginia through a federally funded program. This includes clinical breast exams, mammograms, pelvic exams, Pap tests, as well as any other diagnostic tests as needed for breast or cervical cancer. The program is now accepting appointment requests with the first appointment available on July 1.

“Regular screening for breast and cervical cancer has been proven to prevent disease and save lives,” said Katie Barnes, MPA, CPC, FACHE, the vice president of oncology service lines at VCU Massey Cancer Center. “There are many women who are uninsured but are not receiving these screenings because they can’t afford them. Income level and insurance status should not exclude anyone from routine cancer screenings, and this program allows us to offer expanded access to diagnostic and potentially lifesaving care.”

Every Woman’s Life (EWL) is a federally funded public health program that provides access to free breast and cervical cancer screening services for uninsured, low-income women. After applying for a grant through the Virginia Department of Health, this program is now available for women at VCU Health. The health system treated more than 7,200 uninsured women over the previous year, demonstrating there is a need and there are available resources to implement this program.

To meet eligibility requirements, women must be a Virginia resident between the ages of 18-64, meet federal income guidelines and be uninsured. Women 18-39 must be symptomatic or be determined to be high risk for breast and/or cervical cancer.

“We know that mammograms are effective and detect cancers at an earlier stage when they’re more treatable,” said Kandace McGuire, M.D., FACS, chief of breast surgery at VCU Massey Cancer Center. “This is not a one-time thing. We anticipate that VCU Health will have this program indefinitely and that we will be able to continue to offer these women annual screenings.”

Women who are diagnosed with cancer through EWL may also be eligible for Medicaid to help pay for their cancer treatment. Applications for the EWL program are available in English and Spanish, and the program also serves transgender people.

In addition to Barnes and McGuire, physicians Christine Isaacs, M.D., and Leslie Randall, M.D., MAS, were instrumental in bringing this program to VCU Health.

To find out if you’re eligible or to schedule an appointment at VCU Health, call 804-659-5834.

To learn more about EWL, visit https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/every-womans-life/

Written by: Blake Belden

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