Free mammograms, pap smears given in Alabama

A mammography machine - File photo
A mammography machine - File photo

Montgomery, AL – The Alabama Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection program is being offered through the Department of Public Health for women who are unable to pay for mammograms or pap smears which are tests to aid in early detection of cancer.

The program provides free breast and cervical cancer screenings for women who are ages 40-64, have a family income at or below 200 percent of federal poverty guidelines, and have no insurance or are underinsured.

For example, a single woman may have an income of up to $21,660 per year to be eligible while a woman in a family of four may have an annual income of up to $44,100 to qualify. Underinsured means a woman is unable to pay a high deductible or her health insurance does not include screenings.

“It is becoming common knowledge that early cancer screening, early detection, saves lives,” said Nancy Wright, director of the Cancer Prevention and Control Division. “This is especially true for breast and cervical cancer.”

“Early cancer screening may seem impossible to women without insurance-but it’s not. We urge Alabama women to make a screening appointment today,” continued Wright.

Free services include a pelvic examination, pap smear, clinical breast examination, mammogram and diagnostic services. If necessary, the program will pay for follow-up tests such as an ultrasound, biopsy, or colposcopy, and if the woman is diagnosed with breast or cervical cancer the program will refer her to Medicaid for treatment.

According to Wright, when breast cancer is diagnosed early, the survival rate is over 90 percent, but that figure declines dramatically when cancer is found in later stages.

Since 1996, the program has provided screenings for nearly 70,000 women. Of that number, 1,200 were diagnosed with breast cancer and 320 with cervical cancer.

For more information or to find out if you are eligible for free breast and cervical cancer screening services or breast cancer treatment through Medicaid, please call 1-877-252-3324 toll free.

Article by Melissa Parker

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