Planned Parenthood expands breast health program

8/23/2012, 4:11 p.m.

Planned Parenthood, the nation's leading women's health care provider and advocate, announced that it is expanding its breast health education, outreach and services across the country. The expansion is made possible by an outpouring of donations from the public after Susan G. Komen for the Cure stopped providing grants to Planned Parenthood because of intense pressure from political groups and then quickly reversed course earlier this year.

The expanded program will give more women access to lifesaving cancer screenings, diagnostic services and educational resources to help them identify potential breast health issues early and make the best decisions about their health care.

"Early detection is critical in identifying breast cancer at its most treatable stages and saving women's lives," said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. "Ninety-four percent of our patients are under the age of 40, and for these women, clinical breast exams are key to recognizing potential problems early. This expanded program will help us provide more patients with these vital screenings and also ensure that more patients in need can get specialized follow-up care, like ultrasounds or biopsies."

When Komen announced that it would stop funding Planned Parenthood's work to provide breast cancer screenings to low-income women nationwide, more than 77,000 people donated more than $3 million in less than four days. Those donations will fund the program that Planned Parenthood is now launching.

"We were overwhelmed with support from people all across the country who wanted to be sure that women could still get breast cancer screenings at Planned Parenthood. We've spent the last few months developing an expanded program that plays to our strengths while addressing the biggest barriers to getting care," Richards said. "Planned Parenthood doctors and nurses will be able to help more women than ever detect breast cancer early and take charge of their health. We're proud to be working with Komen again on our shared mission of protecting women's health and beating breast cancer."

As a trusted provider of health care to nearly 3 million patients a year, Planned Parenthood has a deep understanding of the challenges women often face when seeking care. When it comes to following up on breast abnormalities, fear and cost are two of the most significant barriers. Planned Parenthood is addressing these barriers through its expanded breast health work, with an emphasis on several key program areas:

Grants for follow-up diagnostic care awarded to local health centers to help cover some of the costs associated with follow-up care like ultrasounds and biopsies

Digital breast health educational resources specifically designed for and targeted to women ages 18-39

An expanded Promotores educational and outreach program to reach Latinas

A new and unique tool specially designed for Planned Parenthood doctors and nurses to better assess breast cancer risk in patients, including those under 40.

Actress Gabrielle Union, a longtime breast health advocate, is partnering with Planned Parenthood to launch the expanded program. "Fear is what prevented my dear friend Kristen from getting a breast abnormality checked out, and that fear cost Kristen her life. I'm so glad that Planned Parenthood is helping address fears around breast cancer, especially among young women. Every young woman should know about the importance of early detection and what to do and where to go if something feels wrong."