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Pennsylvania Breast & Cervical Cancer
Early Detection Program (PA-BCCEDP)

(formerly called the HealthyWoman Program (HWP))

Have you lost income or health insurance because of COVID-19? You may qualify for free breast and cervical cancer screening and diagnostic services. Our healthcare providers are open and are following CDC guidance to provide care for all patients in the safest way possible. Don't delay your important breast and cervical cancer screenings.


Screen Out Cancer

The Pennsylvania Breast & Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (PA-BCCEDP) 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.

Services

Free services for those meeting the eligibility standards include:

  • Mammograms;
  • Pap and HPV tests; and
  • Follow-up diagnostic tests for abnormal screening results.

You may be eligible if you meet these requirements:

1. Age 

  • Breast cancer screening and diagnostics – If you are 40 through 64 years old
  • Cervical cancer screening and diagnostics – If you are 21 through 64 years old

NOTES:

  • If you are under 40 years old, you may be eligible if you have symptoms.
    If you are under 40 and your health care provider tells you that you are at high risk for breast cancer, you may be eligible for PA-BCCEDP services.  High risk includes genetic mutations, family history and some other factors. Talk to your health care provider for more information.
    You may be eligible if you are 65 or older and do not have Medicare Part B.

2. Residency
You must live in Pennsylvania.
 
3. Income
You may be eligible for the PA-BCCEDP if your family's gross household income is at or below 250 percent of the federal poverty income guidelines.

Federal Poverty Income Guidelines for PA-BCCEDP Program Year
July 1, 2020 – June 30, 2021

2020 Federal Poverty Income Guidelines at 250% of Poverty ​ ​
Family Size Gross Annual Income Gross Monthly Income
1$31,900$2,658
2$43,100$3,592
3$54,300$4,525
4$65,500$5,458
5$76,700$6,392
6$87,900$7,325
7$99,100$8,258
8$110,300$9,192
Each Additional Person$11,200$934

 
4. Insurance status

You must be uninsured or underinsured.
Underinsured means you have health insurance, but it does not cover breast or cervical cancer screening, diagnostic services or both, offered by PA-BCCEDP or you are financially unable to pay any required deductible or co-payment.
 

  • If you are enrolled in Medicare Part B or Medicaid, you are not eligible for PA-BCCEDP.
  • If you have Medicaid Family Planning Services program only, you are considered to be underinsured and you are eligible for PA-BCCEDP.

5. Gender

  • If you are a biological woman you may be eligible.
  • If you are a transgender woman (M to F) and have taken or are taking hormones you may be eligible.
  • If you are a transgender man (F to M) you may be eligible if you still have breasts, a cervix or both.

Screening Matters 2 region map

Why is the Pennsylvania Breast & Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program important?

  • Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women exceeded only by cancer of the lung and bronchus.
  • Breast cancer risk increases with age.
  • In Pennsylvania, 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 and treatment.
  • 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 women.1

    1These data were provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Health. The Department specifically disclaims responsibility for any analyses, interpretations, or conclusions.

Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening Guidelines

PA-BCCEDP uses the US Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) cancer screening guidelines for most adults. Screening tests are used to find cancer before you have any symptoms.

Breast Cancer Guidelines

Age Screening Frequency
Less than 40Patients with symptoms or those at high risk
40-49Every two years based on decision between patient and healthcare provider
50-74Every two years
* The PA-BCCEDP program reimburses for cancer screenings up through age 64. You may be eligible if 65 or over and don't have Medicare Part B.
  • Women with a parent, sibling, or child with breast cancer are at higher risk for breast cancer and thus may benefit more than average-risk women from beginning screening in their 40s. Talk to your healthcare provider to be sure.
  • At age 50, you should have mammograms every other year – though if you want to keep having yearly mammograms you can do so and PA-BCCEDP will cover these.
  • Clinical breast exams, either from a medical provider or self-exams, are no longer recommended. You should know how your breasts normally look and feel and report any breast changes to a health care provider right away.
  • You should be familiar with the benefits, limitations and potential harms linked to breast cancer screening. Check with your healthcare provider.

Cervical Cancer Screening Guidelines

Age Screening Method and Frequency
Less than 21USPSTF recommends against screening for cervical cancer if you are younger than 21 years unless you have symptoms.
21 to 29Every 3 years with Pap test alone. An HPV test should not be done unless it's needed after an abnormal Pap test.
30-65
  • Every 3 years with Pap test alone or
  • Every 5 years with high-risk human papillomavirus (HPV) testing alone or
  • Every 5 years with HPV testing in combination with cytology (cotesting)

* The PA-BCCEDP program reimburses for cancer screenings up through age 64. You may be eligible if 65 or over and don't have Medicare Part B.

Over 65USPSTF recommends against screening for those with adequate prior screening and not at high risk for cervical cancer.
  • You should NOT be screened every year by any screening method. If you have abnormal screening results you may need a follow-up Pap test in 6 months to a year.
  • If your uterus and cervix have been removed (a total hysterectomy) for reasons not related to cervical cancer and you have no history of cervical cancer or serious pre-cancer you should not be tested.
  • If you have been vaccinated against HPV you should still follow the screening recommendations for your age group.
  • Because of your health history (HIV infection, organ transplant, DES exposure, etc.) – you may need a different screening schedule for cervical cancer. Talk to a health care provider about your health history.
  • Sometimes pelvic exams are confused with Pap tests, perhaps because they are usually done at the same time.  A pelvic exam is not a cervical screening test. It won't find cancer of the cervix at an early stage. To do that, a Pap test or HPV test is needed.
  • You may think you can stop cervical cancer screening once you have stopped having children. This is not true. You should continue to follow these guidelines.  

What happens if cancer is detected?

If breast or cervical cancer or a precancerous condition is detected through the PA-BCCEDP, you may be eligible for free treatment through the Department of Human Services (DHS) - Breast and Cervical Cancer Prevention and Treatment Program (BCCPT).  Eligibility for BCCPT is determined by DHS. For specific information visit the BCCPT website.

If you were diagnosed through a PA-BCCEDP healthcare provider, the provider will take care of forwarding a BCCPT application for you.

 If you were diagnosed through any other provider, the provider can download the application forms that can be found on the BCCPT website.

Take control of your health and help reduce your cancer risk:

  • Get a Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination! The HPV vaccine can prevent more than 90% of HPV caused cancers. Almost all cervical cancers are caused by HPV. HPV vaccines are safe and very effective. There is no correlation between vaccinations and autism. The recommended age for all males and females is 11-12 years old. Vaccination may be given for anyone up to 26 years old if not adequately vaccinated previously. HPV vaccination is given as a series of either two or three doses depending on age at initial vaccination.  Besides cervical cancer, HPV can also cause cancer of the throat, penis, anus and others. Encourage family and friends to get the vaccine.
  • 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 with sunscreen of SPF of 15 or more whenever you're outdoors.
  • Know yourself, your family history and your risks.
  • Get regular check-ups and cancer screening tests.

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