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What is the HealthyWoman Program?
The HealthyWoman Program (HWP) is a free breast and cervical cancer early detection program of the Pennsylvania Department of Health. It is funded by the Department of Health and through a grant the Department receives from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
What services can I receive through the HWP?
Free services for those meeting the eligibility standards include:
- Clinical breast examination
- Pelvic examination and Pap smear
- Education on breast self-exam
- Follow-up diagnostic care for an abnormal result
How do I know if I'm eligible?
To view a chart of Eligibility at a Glance click here.
How do I apply for the HWP?
Call 1-800-215-7494. In a matter of minutes you will know if you are eligible.
What happens if cancer is detected?
If breast or cervical cancer is detected through the HWP, you will be able to receive free treatment through the Department of Public Welfare’s Breast and Cervical Cancer Preventionand Treatment Program.
Why is the HealthyWoman Program Important?
- Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among women. Only bronchus/lung cancer causes more deaths than breast cancer.
- Breast cancer risk increases with age.
- Caucasian women are slightly more likely to develop breast cancer than African-American women. African-American women are more likely to die of this cancer. Asian, Hispanic, and Native-American women have a lower risk of developing and dying from breast cancer.
- Fifty percent of cervical cancer cases are diagnosed among Pennsylvania women age 50 or over.
- African-American women over age 50 are at a greater risk for cervical cancer than Caucasian women.
- Cervical cancer is often diagnosed because of missed opportunities for screening, early diagnosis, and treatment.
- Human papillomavirus, or HPV, is the primary cause of cervical cancer.
- Cervical cancer occurs most often in Hispanic women; the rate is over twice that in non-Hispanic white women.
What should I do to stay healthy?
The American Cancer Society recommends:
- Self breast examinations
- Women should report any breast change promptly to their physician.
- Clinical breast examinations
- Clinical breast exams should be part of a periodic health exam, about every three years for women in their 20s and 30s and every year for women 40 and over.
- Women should start yearly mammograms at age 40 and continue for as long as she is in good health.
- Women at increased risk for breast cancer should talk with their physician about the benefits and limitations of starting mammography screening earlier, having additional tests, or having more frequent exams.
The American Cancer Society recommends:
- Pelvic examinations
- Pap tests
- Cervical cancer screening (testing) should begin at age 21. Women under age 21 should not be tested.
- Women between ages 21 and 29 should have a Pap test every 3 years. Now there is also a test called the HPV test. HPV testing should not be used in this age group unless it is needed after an abnormal Pap test result.
- Women between the ages of 30 and 65 should have a Pap test plus an HPV test (called “co-testing”) every 5 years. This is the preferred approach, but it is also OK to have a Pap test alone every 3 years.
- Women over age 65 who have had regular cervical cancer testing with normal results should not be tested for cervical cancer. Once testing is stopped, it should not be started again. Women with a history of a serious cervical pre-cancer should continue to be tested for at least 20 years after that diagnosis, even if testing continues past age 65.
- A woman who has had her uterus removed (and also her cervix) for reasons not related to cervical cancer and who has no history of cervical cancer or serious pre-cancer should not be tested.
- A woman who has been vaccinated against HPV should still follow the screening recommendations for her age group.
Many people confuse pelvic exams with Pap tests, perhaps because they are usually done at the same time. The pelvic exam is part of a woman’s regular health care. During this exam, the doctor looks at and feels the reproductive organs. Some women think they do not need a pelvic exam once they have stopped having children. This is not true. They should follow the guidelines given above. The pelvic exam may help find diseases of the female organs, but it won’t find cancer of the cervix at an early stage. To do that, the Pap test is needed.
The following are rack cards that provide information about the Department of Health’s breast and cervical cancer screening program, the HealthyWoman Program (HWP) including the HWP phone number, services provided, and eligibility requirements. Click below to view and print out the appropriate language of rack card. Please feel free to share with anyone that may be eligible for these free breast and cervical cancer screenings.
Free Mammograms and Pap Test