RICHMOND, Va. -- According to American Cancer Society, breast and cervical cancer are among the most common cancers found in women. With most cases disproportionately effecting uninsured or low income women, Every Woman's Life offers a federally funded grant to provide free breast and cervical cancer screenings.
VCU Health was awarded that grant and now offers free screenings to low-income, underinsured or uninsured women in Richmond.
VCU Massey Chief of Breast Surgery Dr. Candace McGuire said programs like this are vital in helping some of Richmond's most underserved communities.
"We see massive disparities in breast cancer and other cancer outcomes in our nation and in our community," she said "A lot of that is because women don't have the ability to pay for these screenings."
She and Dr. Leslie Randall said that early screenings can be the difference between life or death.
"Most of the patients that get cervical cancer are of a lower economic bracket, or an underinsured or an uninsured social group and I want to see them have access to prevention for a 100% preventable cancer...I should never have to treat cervical cancer," Randall explained.
McGuire said being able to offer this service for free will help a lot of women.
"Getting those women to their screenings, getting them here early will help sort of narrow that gap that we see, not only within Richmond, but nationwide," she said.
The program not only offers mammograms but also pelvic exams, pap test and other necessary screenings.
"I think that it's important that not only are we getting people in the front door, but we're going to take care of them when they get there," said McGuire.
If a woman is diagnosed with cancer the program also covers follow up appointments.
"Should a woman be diagnosed with a breast or cervical cancer, all of her care will be 100% covered," said McGuire.
The program has already been approved for another year of funding.
"We have no cap on the number of women we will keep unless our federal dollars are used, but at this point we will be able to serve every woman that is eligible," said McGuire.
Appointment requests are currently open and the first one is available July 1. To find out if you're eligible call 804-659-5834.
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