What is the
Program is a free breast and cervical cancer early detection program
of the Pennsylvania Department of Health. It is funded by the Department of
Health and through a grant the department receives from the Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention.
What services can I
receive through the HealthyWoman Program?
Free services for
those meeting the eligibility standards include:
- Clinical breast examination;
- Pelvic examination and Pap smear; and
- Follow-up diagnostic tests for an abnormal screening result.
How do I know if I'm
screening and diagnostics - Women 40 through 64
Cervical screening and diagnostics - Women 21
NOTE: Younger women may be eligible if they have symptoms. You
may be eligible if you are 65 or older and do not have Medicare Part B.
Transgender individuals may also be eligible.
Residency: A woman must live in Pennsylvania.
Income: A woman is eligible for the
HealthyWoman if her family’s gross household income is at or below 250 percent
of the federal poverty annual guideline.
2017 Federal Poverty Income Guidelines at
250 Percent of Poverty
Gross Monthly Income
Each additional person
Insurance status: A woman must be
uninsured or underinsured
An underinsured woman is one who has health insurance,
but it does not cover the breast or cervical diagnostic services offered by HWP
or who is financially unable to pay any required deductible or
A woman enrolled in Medicare Part B or Medicaid is not
Call the HealthyWoman
hotline at 1-800-215-7494
In a matter of minutes, you will know if you are eligible.
What happens if cancer is
If breast or cervical cancer is detected through
the HealthyWoman Program, you may be eligible
for free treatment through the Department of Human Services'
(DHS) Breast and Cervical Cancer Prevention and Treatment Program
(BCCPT). In that case, a woman will be referred to BCCPT.
Eligibility for BCCPT
is determined by DHS. For specific information visit the Pa. Department of Human
Services[CP1] website and enter “BCCPT” in the search box.
If you were diagnosed through a HealthyWoman provider, they will
take care of forwarding a BCCPT application for you.
If you were diagnosed through any other provider, they can download the application forms.
Why is the HealthyWoman
- Breast cancer is the second
leading cause of cancer death among women. Only bronchus/lung cancer
causes more deaths than breast cancer.
- Breast cancer risk increases with age.
- Caucasian women are
slightly more likely to develop breast cancer than African-American women.
African-American women are more likely to die of this cancer. Asian,
Hispanic and Native American women have a lower risk of developing and dying
from breast cancer.
- Fifty percent of cervical cancer cases are diagnosed among Pennsylvania women age 50 or over.
- African-American women over
age 50 are at a greater risk for cervical cancer than Caucasian women. Cervical
cancer is often diagnosed because of missed opportunities for screening, early diagnosis
- Human papillomavirus, or
HPV, is the primary cause of cervical cancer. Cervical cancer occurs most
often in Hispanic women; the rate is over twice that in non-Hispanic white
What should I do to stay healthy?
The American Cancer
Women should know the
look and feel of their breasts and report any changes to their health care
The American Cancer Society
recommends these cancer screening guidelines for most adults. Screening tests
are used to find cancer before a person has any symptoms.
- Women ages 40 to 44 should have the choice to start annual breast cancer screening with mammograms (x-rays of the breast) if they wish to do so.
- Women age 45 to 54 should get mammograms every year.
- Women 55 and older can
continue yearly screening or can switch to mammograms every two years.
- NOTE: HealthyWoman will provide coverage for yearly mammograms
- Screening should continue as long as a woman is in good health and is expected to live 10 more years or longer.
- All women should be familiar with the known benefits, limitations and potential harms linked to breast cancer screening. They also should know how their breasts normally look and feel and report any breast changes to a health care provider right away.
- Some women – because of their family history, a genetic tendency, or certain other factors – should be screened with MRIs along with mammograms. (The number of women who fall into this category is very small.) Talk with a health care provider about your risk for breast cancer and the best screening plan for you.
- Cervical cancer testing should start at age 21. Women under age 21 should not be tested unless
symptomatic. If symptomatic, HWP allows women ages 18 to 20 to receive Pap
- Women between the ages of 21 and 29 should have a Pap test done every three years. HPV testing should not be used in this age group unless it’s needed after an abnormal Pap test result.
- Women between the ages of 30 and 65 should have a Pap test plus an HPV test (called “co-testing”) done every five years. This is the preferred approach, but it’s acceptable to have a Pap test alone every three years.
- Women over age 65 who have had regular cervical cancer testing in the past 10 years with normal results should not be tested for cervical cancer. Once testing is stopped, it should not be started again. Women with a history of a serious cervical pre-cancer should continue to be tested for at least 20 years after that diagnosis, even if testing goes past age 65.
- A woman who has had her uterus and cervix removed (a total hysterectomy) for reasons not related to cervical cancer and who has no history of cervical cancer or serious pre-cancer should not be tested.
- All women who have been vaccinated against HPV should still follow the screening recommendations for their age groups.
- Some women – because of their health history (HIV infection, organ transplant, DES exposure, etc.) – may need a different screening schedule for cervical cancer. Talk to a health care provider about your history.
pelvic exams are confused with Pap tests, perhaps because they are usually done
at the same time. The pelvic exam is part of a woman’s regular health
care. During this exam, the doctor looks at and feels the reproductive
organs. Some women think they do not need a pelvic exam once they have
stopped having children. This is not true. They should follow the
guidelines given above. The pelvic exam may help find diseases of the
female organs, but it won’t find cancer of the cervix at an early stage.
To do that, the Pap test is needed.
Take control of your health, and help reduce your cancer risk.
- Stay away from all forms of tobacco.
- Get to and stay at a healthy weight.
- Get moving with regular physical activity.
- Eat healthy with plenty of fruits and vegetables.
- Limit how much alcohol you drink (if you drink at all).
- Protect your skin.
- Know yourself, your family history and your risks.
- Get regular check-ups and cancer screening tests.
Visit the American Cancer Society website, www.cancer.org, or call toll-free number, 1-800-227-2345, to get more details on cancer screening guidelines or to learn more about what you can do to help reduce your risk of getting cancer.