SITKA – SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) was recently awarded a $927,871 grant for breast and cervical cancer screening and diagnostic services from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as part of the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (NBCCEDP).
The annual grant supports breast cancer screenings (mammograms), cervical cancer screenings (Pap tests), diagnosis, and case management at SEARHC facilities throughout Southeast Alaska for five years, potentially bringing more than 4.6 million dollars to the region to help patients. This funding includes support for the mobile mammogram vehicle that travels by ferry to multiple rural Southeast Alaska communities without access to mammography.
CDC also awarded SEARHC a $761,410 grant for the WISEWOMAN women’s cardiovascular health screening and lifestyle intervention program. In partnership with NBCCEDP, the program provides screening for heart and blood vessel disease, followed by individualized programs and coaching to help women reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease.
Both CDC grants provide services to women who meet age, income, and insurance eligibility guidelines. Program Coordinator Sara Beaber-Fujioka says, “If you know a woman who is age 30-64 and is low-income, uninsured, or has difficulty paying for her breast and cervical cancer screenings, please encourage her to contact us at 1-888-388-8782. We can help her access high-quality cancer screenings at no cost. Women age 40-64 also qualify for free cardiovascular risk assessments and coaching to help them meet their goals for improving health.”
Screening catches breast cancer, cervical cancer, and cardiovascular disease early allowing early intervention and the best possible treatment options. In some cases, screening tests can identify conditions that put them at risk, so women and their medical providers can prevent disease before it occurs.
The SEARHC NBCCEDP and WISEWOMAN programs offer a tremendous opportunity to reduce the illness and death caused by breast cancer, cervical cancer, and cardiovascular disease. Cancer is the leading cause of death for Alaska women, with heart disease coming in second. Breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths for Alaska women. While cervical cancer mortality rates are not as high, these deaths are mostly preventable if caught early enough by a Pap test. The human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine is another important preventative measure that can help prevent cervical cancer.
SEARHC services are available to all Sitka residents, and SEARHC is in-network with most insurers. Anyone interested in learning more is encouraged to call 966-HERE (4373).