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President’s budget puts women at risk

To the editor:

I write this letter as an American Cancer Society Volunteer Advocacy Constituent Team Leader for Congressional District 4.

The White House’s proposed budget for next year is an important step toward boosting critical funding for medical research at the National Institutes of Health, but it falls short of the commitment needed for cancer prevention, screening and tobacco control programs at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that have been documented to save lives.

The proposed budget would cut cancer programs at the CDC by $16 million, including $4 million from the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program, which provides low-income and uninsured women with access to life-saving mammograms and Pap tests.

The breast and cervical program is already woefully underfunded. At its current funding level, the program is screening nearly 80,000 fewer women than it did five years ago. The budget cuts will deny an additional 7,000 women life-saving cancer screenings.

And while the program has done extraordinary work to save the lives of women from breast and cervical cancer, unfortunately fewer than 20 percent of eligible women currently have access to it due to lack of funds. We need to screen more women, not less, for breast and cervical cancers. And we need to tell Congress not only to restore these cuts but to reverse the trend of fewer women being screened.

Applying what we already know, we could prevent 60 percent of cancer deaths. We cannot afford to reverse progress in areas where we have made strides against a disease that affects far too many Americans.