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New Bill Introduced to Strengthen Resources for Early Cancer Detection

In the Community: From the Office of Congressman Joe Morelle

Photo by CDC on Unsplash

Bipartisan legislation will fund life-saving breast and cervical cancer screening services for low-income and underinsured patients 

New bipartisan legislation that has recently been introduced to bolster screening services for breast cancer and cervical cancer, making it easier for vulnerable populations to get the preemptive care they need. 

The Screening for Communities to Receive Early and Equitable Needed Services (SCREENS) for Cancer Act would reauthorize the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (NBCCEDP) through 2027, making screening services more accessible to more people.

“Too many families across America know the pain of receiving a cancer diagnosis. Nearly 300,000 people in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer and another 14,000 will be diagnosed with cervical cancer this year,” Congressman Morelle said. “My daughter, Lauren, battled breast cancer for two years with incredible courage, sharing her story and underscoring the importance of early detection. I’m proud to carry on her legacy by helping all women access the critical cancer screening services they need, regardless of their income—so fewer families will suffer the unimaginable loss of a loved one.”

National Cancer Institute (NCI) studies estimate pandemic-related disruptions or delays in care and screening are expected to result in over 2,500 breast cancer deaths by 2030 because breast cancer screenings declined by over 80% during the COVID-19 pandemic. The NBCCEDP provides potentially lifesaving breast and cervical cancer screening and diagnostic services to low-income, uninsured, underinsured who do not qualify for Medicaid. At current funding levels, NBCCEDP serves only 15% of the estimated number of eligible women for breast cancer services. The SCREENS for Cancer Act would provide greater funding authorizations for this critical program to strengthen outreach and accessibility, helping connect more women with screening services to detect cancer before it’s too late.

“We have to make timely access to high-quality screening and diagnosis available to all, especially those in under-resourced communities where disparities in outcomes are highest, so that cancers can be caught early when there are more treatment options and prognosis is better,” said Molly Guthrie, VP of Policy & Advocacy at Susan G. Komen. 

Guthrie said screening is a key step in routine breast care but so many people are currently unable to access it – the SCREENS for Cancer Act can change that. 

“Receiving a cancer diagnosis is devastating news for any family to hear,” said Rep. Nanette Barragan.  “However, with regular screenings, cancer can be detected early and allow for more treatment options and recovery. For over 30 years, the CDC’s National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program has provided lifesaving breast cancer screening and diagnostic services to low-income, uninsured, or underinsured people. It has helped increase life expectancy for millions of women across the nation.”