Increasing access to cervical cancer screening

By Jamie Shuster

(The following post was originally sent as an email to DHEC Public Health staff on 1/17/14.)

sc best chance networkScreening for cervical cancer is a key public health intervention that saves lives, as early detection and treatment results in greatly improved outcomes for patients. Cervical cancer is almost 100% curable if detected in its earliest stages.

Our Best Chance Network (BCN) began screening women for cervical and breast cancer in 1991, and has provided more than 153,000 Pap smear tests to low-income and uninsured women who likely could not have accessed this service without BCN. Six percent of these screening tests were abnormal and required diagnostic follow-up. With the help of BCN, more than 1,000 women have been diagnosed and treated for pre-cancerous lesions or invasive cervical cancer, and nearly 80% were diagnosed in the early stages of the disease.

We work with non-profit partners and a network of private providers to help South Carolina women access this vital screening service. Below is just one example of the wonderful thank you notes BCN receives regularly from the women that we help:

I would like to say a special “THANK YOU!” to the American Cancer Society and its South Carolina partners for providing me with the “Best Chance” cancer screenings. I have no health insurance and am at an extremely high risk for both cervical cancer and breast cancer. Without “Best Chance” I would be unable to afford the cost of the cancer screenings provided.

What you are doing matters. What you are doing SAVES LIVES. Too many of us, your fellow Americans, are without insurance and without the means to pay for these screenings. I want to thank you, American Cancer Society, and your partners for providing me with these critical screenings at no charge. I finally feel hopeful, for the first time in a long time. I finally feel like health care is something I might finally be able to access. Thank you for helping me and providing these crucial screenings. I am more grateful than you will ever know.
– SC Best Chance Client

Thank you to our Cancer Prevention and Control team members across the state who work with our private providers and non-profit partners to help thousands of South Carolina women access this life-saving screening test every year.