CHICAGO, IL – Planned Parenthood of Illinois announced today that it is expanding its education, outreach, and services for breast health to patients across Illinois. The announcement is part of a nationwide expansion of Planned Parenthood’s breast health programs, made possible by an outpouring of donations from the public after the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation changed its grantmaking policies because of intense pressure from political groups and then quickly reversed course earlier this year.
For many years, Planned Parenthood of Illinois has been a trusted provider of breast cancer screening for women across Illinois. Last year, Planned Parenthood of Illinois provided breast cancer screening for 13,940 women. Nationwide, Planned Parenthood health centers provide breast cancer screening for nearly 750,000 women each year.
The expanded breast health program will give more women access to lifesaving cancer screenings, diagnostic services, and educational resources to help them identify potential breast health issues early, and make the best decisions about their health care.
“At Planned Parenthood, we are committed to removing the barriers that stand in the way of women obtaining recommended screenings for breast cancer,” said Carole Brite, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Illinois. “Whether it’s a clinical exam, necessary follow-up services like biopsies or ultrasounds, or information about their options — we’re thrilled that we can provide more patients in Illinois with vital screenings and follow-up care.”
As a trusted provider of health care to more than 60,000 patients a year, Planned Parenthood of Illinois has a deep understanding of the challenges patients often face in seeking out care. When it comes to following up on breast abnormalities, fear and cost are two of the most significant barriers.
Planned Parenthood of Illinois is addressing these barriers through its expanded breast health work, with an emphasis on several key program areas:
- When Planned Parenthood doctors and clinicians identify potential breast abnormalities in patients, they refer patients to their partners for diagnostic testing. As part of this expanded program, Planned Parenthood of Illinois was awarded a $25,000 grant from Planned Parenthood Federation of America to help cover some of the costs associated with follow-up care.
- Digital breast health educational resources to be specifically designed for and targeted to women ages 18-39.
- A unique tool to be specially designed for Planned Parenthood doctors and clinicians to assess breast cancer risk in patients — including those under 40. While breast cancer is rare among women under the age 40, when younger women are diagnosed they are more likely to be have a more aggressive form of breast cancer, making them more likely to be diagnosed at a later stage and less likely to survive the disease. The new tool made possible by the breast health initiative will be specifically designed to help Planned Parenthood health care professionals better assess breast cancer risk in patients — including those under 40.
Planned Parenthood of Illinois today encouraged women to schedule a regular check-up at a local Planned Parenthood health center, which includes recommended clinical breast exams that can help detect breast cancer early.
“We are stepping up our outreach and education efforts so that women from all backgrounds can take charge of their own health,” said Kai Tao, Vice President of Clinical Operations. “We know that understanding the risks and signs of breast cancer is the first step to early detection, and Planned Parenthood is a partner for women in Illinois in fighting this disease.”
These expanded services are particularly important for women of color in Illinois.
Studies show Hispanic Americans tend not to get screened for common cancers, such as breast cancer, as regularly as non-Hispanic whites. In addition, breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths among Latinas, and Hispanic women are 20 percent more likely to die from breast cancer when compared to non-Hispanic white women when diagnosed at a similar age and stage.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer among African American women. It is also the second leading cause of cancer death among African American women, exceeded only by lung cancer. In 2011, an estimated 26,840 new cases of breast cancer and 6,040 deaths were expected to occur among African American women.
Planned Parenthood is a critical resource for women in the fight to detect breast cancer early. One in five women has turned to Planned Parenthood at some time in her life for health care.
All 17 Planned Parenthood of Illinois health centers will be providing expanded breast health services. To learn more, visit www.ppil.org or call 800-230-PLAN.