October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and Planned Parenthood is urging people to reach out to their health care provider for information about their breast cancer risks and screening recommendations.

During Brest Cancer Month, the organization is also calling on Congress to protect patients’ access to lifesaving preventive care like breast exams and cancer screenings through Title X, the nation’s program for affordable reproductive health care.

Breast cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer affecting women of any age, race, or ethnicity — yet because Black and Hispanic women face more barriers to accessing health care in the U.S. than white women, they are more likely to be diagnosed at later stages when cancer is more advanced and less treatable. The result is that Black women have the highest mortality rates from breast cancer in the U.S.

“Regular check-ups and cancer screenings can save lives, yet many people do not know when or how often they should get screened for breast cancer,” Dr. Gillian Dean, Senior Director of Medical Services, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a prepared statement. “Planned Parenthood knows firsthand how important breast exams and cancer screenings are. In the last year, Planned Parenthood health centers provided over a half a million cancer screenings nationwide. We’re here to help people understand their breast cancer risks and screening recommendations and access the preventive health care they need.”

The Title X program is meant to ensure that those with low incomes can still access important health care services like cancer screenings, birth control, sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing and treatment, and annual exams. Recently, through an unethical gag rule, the Trump administration forced Planned Parenthood and other sexual and reproductive health care providers out of the program. Planned Parenthood has been in the program since it was created 50 years ago, and has been its largest provider, serving 40 percent of all Title X patients.

The majority of Title X patients identify as Black, Hispanic, or Latino. Most patients in the Title X program don’t even realize they’re getting care through this program. For many Black and Hispanic women, the Trump administration’s gag rule will prevent them from being able to access breast exams and cancer screenings, which could reduce their mortality rates from breast cancer. Without cancer screenings and other reproductive health services provided through the Title X program, low-income women are unable to access preventive health care, which is critical to living healthy and happy lives.

“With Title X currently under attack through the Trump administration’s unethical gag rule, many women of color and people with low incomes will be unable to access affordable preventive health care such as breast cancer screenings and exams. We know that women of color in the U.S. already face barriers to accessing health care due to systemic racism and medical bias — and that Black women experience the highest mortality rates for breast cancer. We need Congress to act now to protect patients’ access to preventive health care so that people across the country can get the lifesaving health care they need.”

Planned Parenthood provides lifesaving breast exams at every one of the more than 600 Planned Parenthood health centers across the country — not just during Breast Cancer Awareness month, but every month. We know how important it is that people have access to basic preventive health care without barriers, which is why we’re committed to helping as many people as possible detect breast cancer as early as possible and connecting them to the information and treatment they need.

You can learn more about how to protect Title X by texting TITLEX to 22422. For more information about breast health, or to make an appointment at a Planned Parenthood health center near you, click here. 

Image Sources

  • Pink Ribbon: Image by marijana1 from Pixabay