The Breast and Cervical Cancer Control Program (BCCCP) is a federal program. North Carolina takes part in so that we can offer breast and cervical cancer screening, education and prevention at extremely low costs. One of our main goals is to allow women who do not qualify under other state and federal programs to be screened for breast and cervical cancers.
Through the BCCCP Program, women are eligible for reduced/ no cost exams if they are:
- Age 50-64
- Not covered by Medicaid or Medicare Part B
- Have little or no insurance to cover breast and cervical screenings
- Meet household income guidelines. These guidelines are given below. Income guidelines can change every year so they may not be exactly what are given below.
Payment is determined by a sliding fee scale according to family size and family income. Other services may cost extra. Be sure to call ahead if you are interested in the program.
Breast Cancer Prevention
Breast cancer strikes one out of every eight women across the US, but it also strikes men. It is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in women behind lung cancer.
The cause of breast cancer is not known so there is not a way to prevent it. This makes screening for cancer much more important, especially for women at higher risk. We do know that women whose relatives have had breast cancer are more likely to develop it and are considered at higher risk. Women are also at higher risk as they get older. Self breast exams, clinical breast exams and mammograms can help find cancer in its early stages when it is most treatable.
- Optimal breast health includes monthly self breast exams (SBE) and clinical breast exams (CBE) every year. Mammograms are recommended for women according to their risk.
- Self breast exams are the most effective when performed lying on a flat surface, not in the shower, and right after your period when the breast tissue is the least swollen. Breast self exams allow you to know how your breasts feel like normally so that if something changes, you will know early.
- Clinical breast exams are performed by a doctor or nurse during your physical.
- Mammograms should be performed on women under the age of 40 only when symptoms indicate a need. Women ages 40 -49 should have mammograms once every 1 to 2 years. Women age 50 and over are recommended to have a mammogram every year.
Cervical Cancer Prevention
Cervical cancer used to be one of the most common causes of cancer death in women. In 1955 the Pap screening test was developed to identify cervical cancer in its earliest stages and deaths by cervical cancer have dropped dramatically.
- Cervical cancer is an abnormal growth of cells on the cervix (the opening to the uterus, or womb). HPV (human papillomavirus) is the virus that infects the cells of the cervix and causes abnormal growth. Sometimes the infection shows up as warts. HPV is a sexually transmitted infection.
- The Pap test is a screening test for cervical cancer. During a Pap test the doctor or nurse uses a small brush or swab to take a few cells from your cervix. These cells are sent to a lab to be checked for abnormal growth. You will be given the results of your test.
- Cervical health recommendations are a Pap test every year or as instructed by your health care provider based on your risk. Generally it is recommended that women begin getting Pap tests every year when they turn 21 or within 3 years of first sexual intercourse, whichever comes first. There are some changes to this recommendation depending on behavior and previous test results. Even if you are past childbearing or are not having sex, you still need regular tests.
- Women who have had a hysterectomy (removal of the uterus) may need to talk with a doctor or nurse about whether you need a Pap test and how often.
Cervical cancer can be prevented by practicing safe sex and by getting the Pap test screening. Finding precancerous spots on the cervix early allows healthcare providers to kill the abnormally growing cells to stop them from developing into cancer.
For more information, please call 651-7450.