Breast cancer program gains strength from new state law

July 21, 1998|By Jamie Stiehm | Jamie Stiehm,SUN STAFF

More city women ages 40 and over are eligible for free breast cancer screening under a new state law that took effect this month, according to city officials and the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

"This [program] targets the working poor, the under-insured or those with no insurance," said Jackie Chambers, 61, of Pikesville and a former president of Sisters Surviving, a network of breast cancer survivors.

The legislation, introduced by Del. Shirley Nathan-Pulliam and passed into law this spring, appropriates an additional $2.6 million for a statewide program which was launched with federal funds. Five hospital clinics in the city administer free screenings and treatment.

Dr. Penny Borenstein, Baltimore's assistant health commissioner, said that about 35,000 women in the city are eligible under the low-income guidelines. The number currently served is about 750, she said. The new state funds will provide service to at least 1,000 in the city.

"It's a healthy start, but it will not serve all the women currently in need," Borenstein said. "It's a step in the right direction."

The new legislation will allow nearly 7,000 more women throughout Maryland to receive free screening and, if necessary, treatment. In Maryland last year, there were more than 3,000 new cases and 845 deaths.

All women should get a baseline mammogram at age 35, Borenstein said.

"The big issue is that most women wait and don't get around to it," she said.

For more information, call 410-706-1709.

Pub Date: 7/21/98

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