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Your Opinion: Protect cancer screening funds

Dear Editor:

In 2007, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Early detection and aggressive treatments saved my life. This year an estimated 230,000 women in America will be diagnosed with breast cancer and another 40,000 will die from it. With access to proper screening and treatment, many of those deaths could be avoided. However, for millions of women in the United States, access to a mammogram is unaffordable and out of reach.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) runs the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program, which provides low-income and uninsured women with access to life-saving mammograms and Pap tests. For over 20 years the program has provided more than nine million mammograms and Pap tests to more than three million women and detected more than 47,000 cases of cancer.

The program has helped to save the lives of women from breast and cervical cancer, but fewer than one in five eligible women currently have access to it due to lack of funds. At its current funding level, the program is screening nearly 80,000 fewer women than it did five years ago. Additional budget cuts could deny thousands more women from accessing life-saving screenings.

We need to screen more women, not less, for breast and cervical cancers. In the weeks ahead, Congress will make tough decisions on what to cut to reduce the deficit. We can’t afford to reverse progress in areas where we’ve made strides against a disease that kills far too many women.

Congress must protect funding for critical CDC programs.

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