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January Cervical Cancer Awareness Month

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[January 09, 2009]  CHICAGO -- On Thursday, Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich declared January as Cervical Cancer Awareness Month in Illinois and is urging all women, especially women who smoke, to get screened regularly for cervical cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, women who smoke are almost twice as likely as nonsmokers to develop cervical cancer.

Donuts"It is important for all women to be routinely screened for cervical cancer because early detection is the key to survival," Blagojevich said. "Women who smoke need to know that they are increasing their risk of developing cervical cancer. This is a perfect time to make a resolution to put your health first and get routine cervical cancer screenings."

Smoking exposes the body to many cancer-causing chemicals, which are absorbed by the lungs and carried in the bloodstream throughout the body. The American Cancer Society reports that tobacco byproducts have been found in the cervical mucus of women who smoke. Researchers believe these substances damage the DNA of cervix cells and may contribute to the development of cervical cancer.

According to the National Cervical Cancer Coalition, about 10,000 women in the U.S. are diagnosed with cervical cancer every year and about 3,700 women die from this disease annually.

The latest data for Illinois shows that 560 women were diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2005. That same year, 183 women died of cervical cancer. It is estimated that in 2009, 590 women in Illinois will be diagnosed with cervical cancer and approximately 200 women will die from it.

"Almost every cervical cancer death is preventable through early detection, treatment and follow-up," said Damon T. Arnold, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health. "Women who do not receive regular Pap tests are most at risk for cervical cancer. Families and friends don't have to lose a loved one to cervical cancer and women don't have to suffer if they take care of themselves and routinely get screened for cervical cancer."

"In order to reduce cervical cancer morbidity and mortality in Illinois, increased awareness of cervical cancer and preventive health-seeking behavior is needed," said Stacie E. Geller, Ph.D., chairwoman of the Illinois Cervical Cancer Elimination Task Force. "We must work to increase awareness of cervical cancer preventive measures, including access to the HPV vaccine through educational, advocacy and legislative efforts to medical providers, health educators, policymakers and consumers."

The Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program offers free pelvic exams and Pap tests to any uninsured woman age 35-64 and free breast exams to any uninsured woman age 40-64. On a case-by-case basis, younger, symptomatic women who meet the guidelines are considered for the program. The screening program is free.


Uninsured women diagnosed with breast or cervical cancer will qualify for comprehensive health care coverage provided by the Department of Healthcare and Family Services as long as they need treatment for breast or cervical cancer. Women diagnosed with a pre-cancerous cervical cancer condition who need follow-up diagnostic tests will also qualify for HFS coverage to determine whether they actually have cervical cancer. Health care coverage will include doctor visits, inpatient and outpatient hospital care, emergency services, prescription drugs, and more. Women who need treatment will pay modest co-payments for doctor visits, brand-name prescription drugs and inpatient stays.

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For smokers looking for help to quit, the Illinois Department of Public Health funds a toll-free help line at 866-QUITYES (866-784-8937). For more information about the Smoke Free Illinois Act, visit www.smoke-free.illinois.gov. People also can use the site to log a complaint about a business or individual violating the law.

Women can find out how to get breast and cervical cancer screening and treatment by visiting www.cancerscreening.illinois.gov or by calling the Women's Health-Line at 888-522-1282 or, for hearing-impaired use only, TTY 800-547-0466. Information on the Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program and other women's health programs can also be found at www.idph.state.il.us.

The Logan County Department of Public Health is an eight-county lead agency for the Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program. The department's coverage area includes the counties of Cass, DeWitt, Logan, Macon, Mason, Morgan, Piatt and Shelby. Women wishing to know if they qualify for this program may call the Logan County Department of Public Health at 800-269-4019, or for more information, they can visit www.logancountyhealth.org.



The governor's proclamation reads as follows:

WHEREAS, every year in the United States there are approximately 10,000 women diagnosed with and 3,700 women who die from cervical cancer; and

WHEREAS, in 2009, it is estimated in Illinois 590 women will be diagnosed and 200 women will die from cervical cancer; and

WHEREAS, most deaths from the disease could be avoided if women had regular checkups, including a Pap test. Early detection significantly increases chances of survival. In fact, if detected early, cervical cancer is nearly 100 percent curable; and

WHEREAS, that is why I expanded the Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program, which made Illinois the first state in the nation to ensure that all women can get access to potentially life-saving cancer screenings and treatment; and

WHEREAS, throughout January, public and private organizations and state and local governments all around the country will promote education about cervical cancer screenings, treatment and causes:

THEREFORE, I, Rod R. Blagojevich, Governor of the State of Illinois, do hereby proclaim January 2009 as CERVICAL CANCER AWARENESS MONTH in Illinois to raise awareness about cervical cancer and to encourage all women to get tested regularly for the disease.

[Text from Illinois Office of Communication and Information file received from the Logan County Department of Public Health]

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