Health partnership expands cancer screening services

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The Health Partnership of Monroe County, which evolved from the Women's Health Partnership, has expanded its free cancer screenings for women and men and now offers coverage for the human papilloma virus (HPV) vaccine.

Thanks to renewal of a five-year grant from the New York State Department of Health Cancer Services Program, the Health Partnership of Monroe County (HPMC) offers free screenings for breast, cervical and colorectal cancer for women and men who are without health insurance or whose health insurance plans do not cover cancer screenings or have high deductibles that put screenings out of reach.

The program began 15 years ago as the Women's Health Partnership, originally formed to provide free breast cancer screening to those who could not afford it. The name change is intended to reflect the program's expansion of services to all Monroe County adults in need. HPMC is a program of the Center for Community Health at the University of Rochester Medical Center.

"Women and men age 50 and over need regular screenings in order to detect cancers in their earliest stages," said Lisa Bowdey, HPMC director. "While there are various reasons people are not being screened, ability to pay for screenings should not be one of them. The Health Partnership essentially eliminates that barrier."

If screening indicates a suspected cancer, HPMC can pay for additional testing. If a client is diagnosed with breast, cervical, colorectal or prostate cancer and has no insurance to cover treatment, the Partnership will assist them in applying for Medicaid Cancer Treatment Program coverage, Bowdey said. Case management is available for those needing additional support and assistance as they go through diagnosis and treatment.

HPMC follows the New York State Cancer Services Program guidelines to determine when and how often people should receive cancer screenings. According to the guidelines:

  • Men and women age 50 and older should be screened annually for colon cancer. HPMC provides annual at-home testing kids for colorectal screening and, in some cases, can cover colonoscopy for people with a strong family history of colorectal cancer or personal history which places them at higher risk.

  • Women age 40 and older should have annual mammograms, and those 18 and older should have clinical breast exams yearly by a health professional.

  • Women age 18 and older should have regular Pap tests. The frequency varies from every one to three years, depending on prior tests results.

In addition, HPV vaccine is available to protect against two types of HPV, a common virus that is responsible for 70 percent of cervical cancers, and two types that are responsible for 90 percent of genital warts. HPMC can provide coverage for the HPV vaccine for women ages 19 through 26.

"Most importantly, we want to encourage people to get screened regularly as a means of staying healthy. The cancers we can screen for all have high survival rates when detected early. The Partnership is here to help everyone get the testing they need to stay healthy," Bowdey said.

The University of Rochester Medical Center is also lead agency for a second program, recently awarded the New York State Department of Health Cancer Services Program contract for the Livingston/Wyoming Counties Cancer Prevention Partnership.

For information on cancer screening, consult your doctor or call the Health Partnership of Monroe County at (585) 753-5978 or toll-free at (877) 293-0822.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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