Kaine proposes budget for Cancer Society

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RICHMOND — A plan to increase funds for early detection programs for breast cancer was announced at a press conference this past week held by Gov. Tim M. Kaine and the American Cancer Society.

Kaine said his proposed two-year budget for 2008-2010 sets aside $300,000 for the Virginia Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program. This program offers early detection for breast and cervical cancer to women who qualify.

This past week, the ACS announced an additional $50,000 contribution, which will allow 1,000 more women to be screened.

The more we can focus on early detection, the better, Kaine said.

Funds for the contribution were raised through the annual Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk held in October. In 2006, Making Strides raised more than $40 million to help fight breast cancer — more than 450,000 people participated in the fundraising walk, according to the organizations Web site.

The program is focused on low-income and minority communities where women may not have enough money or medical insurance to pay for the screenings themselves.

Gay Rudis, president of the Virginia Breast Cancer Foundation, said the foundation has been a long-time supporter of the program. The additional funds will allow for an added number of younger women to potentially be included in breast cancer screenings.

We’re very glad that Kaine is including additional money in his budget to support this program, Rudis said.

Dr. Mary Helen Hackney, associate professor of oncology at the Virginia Commonwealth University Massey Cancer Center and director of the Rural Cancer Outreach Center, said it can be a challenge to get women in rural areas proper medical care to treat breast cancer. Contributions especially from the ACS will help provide the care that women need, she said.

We have a lot of areas of Virginia where there are not many medical facilities, Hackney said. I think that this proposal gives the medical community more opportunities to offer to more women.

Since there is currently no cure for cancer, early detection and treatment are the keys to saving patients lives, Hackney said.

According to the ACS, there were nearly 178,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer diagnosed in women and 40,910 deaths from breast cancer in the United States in 2007. Early detection programs would help lower these numbers, Hackney said.

This can make a significant impact on their future, Hackney said. These programs help these women make this step towards better health.

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