CDC Cancer Screening Program Aids Millions of Women with Limited Health Care Access

Davy James, Associate Editor
Published Online: Thursday, August 7, 2014
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More than 90% of women in the program received timely follow-up care.
Given that early detection is a crucial aspect in cancer survival rates, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is touting the success of its early screening and detection program, which is now in its 23rd year.

Since the inception of the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (NBCCEDP) in 1991, the CDC has aided more than 4.3 million women with limited access to health care in obtaining breast and cervical cancer screening and diagnostic services.

“Today, millions of women have benefited from the timely screening and diagnostic services offered by CDC’s NBCCEDP,” said Ursula E. Bauer, PhD, MPH, Director of the CDC National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, in a press release.

Throughout the first 20 years of the program, the CDC provided approximately 5.2 million mammograms and roughly 5.2 million Pap tests for uninsured, underserved, and low-income women. A total of 56,662 breast cancer, 3206 cervical cancer, and 152,470 pre-cancerous cervical lesions were detected, with more than 90% of those women receiving timely follow-up care, according to the CDC.

The NBCCEDP provides screening in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, 5 US territories, and 11 American Indian and native Alaskan tribes or tribal organizations. Among the services the group provides are pelvic examinations, human papillomavirus (HPV) tests, diagnostic testing in the case of abnormal results, and treatment referrals.

In 2012 alone, the program provided mammograms for 340,038 women, with breast cancer detected in 5904 of those women. The group also provided Pap tests for 251,637 women, which diagnosed 261 cervical cancers and 12,433 premalignant cervical lesions, according to the CDC. It cost the NBCCEDP an estimated $145 per woman to conduct these cancer screening and diagnostic services.

A full report on the success of the program, which is scheduled to appear in the Aug. 15, 2014, supplement of Cancer, has evaluated outreach, education, and health care collaboration programs, in addition to data quality, evaluation, cost estimates, and suggestions for future activities to prevent cancer.

“This program has made tremendous contributions in public health through strengthening partnerships, health care collaborations, and quality of care, but also at a personal level by serving women directly,” Dr. Bauer said in the release.

For more information about the NBCCEDP, visit

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