The intention behind a new screening program to detect cancers among Maryland's low-income women is a good one, but it could fall short of the health-care goals it hopes to achieve if there isn't money available for treatment.
The program, funded by a $15 million federal grant and $5 million in matching state funds over five years, will include education and outreach efforts to let women know about the importance of Pap smears and mammograms. The grants will also pay for those tests, for follow-up services and for quality-control monitoring. The state hopes, through this effort, to reach as many as 12,000 women a year.
There is no dispute about the need for such a program. Maryland bears the stigma of having the highest cancer death rate in the nation. While there is no consensus on why the people of this state suffer disproportionately, state health officials note that nearly 600 of the more than 1,770 women who died from breast and cervical cancer in 1987 and 1988 (the most recent statistics available), could have been saved if their diseases had been identified in earlier stages.