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Legislative digest

In our state, breast cancer is the number one form of cancer and the second leading cause of cancer deaths among women.

In 2013, it is likely that 2,280 women will be told they have breast cancer and around 420 women will die from it in Arkansas alone.

Breast cancer in men is rare, but nationwide over 2,000 cases are diagnosed each year.

Finding cancer early can save your life. And since October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we would like to remind you about some of the prevention programs made available by acts of the General Assembly.

During the most recent legislative session, the Joint Budget Committee voted to isolate the appropriation for the BreastCare Program into a single line item in the Department of Health Budget. The amount appropriated for BreastCare 2014 is $8,998,524.

When the Arkansas General Assembly passed the Breast Cancer Act of 1997, the fate of hundreds of Arkansas women took a turn for the better. Guidelines were established making breast cancer diagnostic and treatment services available through the BreastCare program to Arkansas women who had little or no health insurance or who could otherwise not afford these critical services.

BreastCare is a comprehensive early detection program providing free breast and cervical cancer screenings to Arkansas women age 40 to 64 who have no health insurance and a household income level at or below 200% of the federal poverty level.

So far this year this program has provided mammograms to over 7,000 women. Last year over 12,000 women were served by the program. The services are offered at health departments, community health clinics and even private clinics in some cases can bill the services to the program. Women can enroll online and find their nearest provider at www.ARBreastCare.com.

Research has come a long way in providing detection and treatment. But there is still work to be done. Although the legislature will continue to evaluate and prioritize funding for such programs, help from the public is crucial. Even if you don’t have financial resources to give to a national charity, there are ways you can help. Go to www.nationalbreastcancer.org to find out more.

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