State program helping underserved women get cancer screenings

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A program by the New Mexico Department of Health is helping save lives.

It helps women who cannot afford important health screening gain access.

Wendy Hine is in her 17th year at her job with the New Mexico Department of Health’s Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program.

She works with women who cannot afford potentially life-saving cancer screenings.

“A lot of women are afraid and they come in too late,” Hine said.

The New Mexico Department of Health estimates each year 1,300 women are diagnosed with breast cancer in the state, about 250 will not survive.

And that is why Hine says early detection is so important.

“We’re trying to not make women decide between ‘do I get my mammogram or do I put food on my table today?'” Hine said.

The Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program has provided screenings like mammograms to more than 153,000 women since it started in 1991 for free.

Right now it works with almost 200 health clinics across the state.

“It helps tremendously, I had a woman the other day say to me that she was so glad she had the program because it made sure that she didn’t go bankrupt in trying to get her health care,” Hine said.

The DOH estimates 80,000 New Mexico women are uninsured or under-insured. That’s one requirement for the program, also being over 30-years-old and low income.

During the last fiscal year, the BCC program was able to provide 3,500 mammograms to women in the state.

“With every woman that’s able gets diagnosed early, that is able to get treatment, for every women that cervical cancer is prevented because it’s caught before it turns into cancer, it’s absolutely saved lives,” Hine said.

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