Governor Cuomo Announces State Landmarks to be Lit Pink in Recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month
Over 2.4 Million Women Received Breast Cancer Screenings in 2019
New York State Department of Health Launches Multimedia Campaign to Increase Screening Rates
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that One World Trade Center, The Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge, Kosciuszko Bridge, The H. Carl McCall SUNY Building, State Education Building, Alfred E. Smith State Office Building, New York State Fairgrounds, Niagara Falls, Mid-Hudson Bridge, Grand Central Terminal and the Albany International Airport Gateway will light up pink to commemorate Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer and the second leading cause of cancer deaths among women in New York State. While New York State fights the COVID-19 pandemic, women are still developing and dying from cancer. Each year, over 16,200 women in New York diagnosed with breast cancer and approximately 2,500 die from the disease.
“While COVID-19 forced many New Yorkers to put off routine health exams during the height of the pandemic, restrictions on non-emergency medical care have been lifted, so we encourage women to stay updated with their breast cancer screenings,” Governor Cuomo said. “We will continue to make it a priority and make it easier for every woman in New York to get these lifesaving screenings.”
The Department of Health launched a multi-phased comprehensive media campaign on October 1. The campaign encourages those not up to date on their screenings to get a mammogram. The campaign materials have been developed based on feedback from women in high-risk groups and addresses their fears and misconceptions about breast cancer and screenings.
“During Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we are highlighting the resources and services for New Yorkers to get screened and reminding them of the importance to do so as we continue to battle the COVID-19 pandemic,” Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul said. “We have made great strides in breast cancer research and development, and we want to make sure individuals and families have access to the care they need to live healthy and safe lives. I am proud to help put the spotlight on this issue as part of our efforts in leading the way and making New York State a safer, better place for our residents and families.”
In New York, women between the ages of 50 and 74 who report having had a mammogram within the past two years increased from 82.1 percent in 2018 to 83.3 percent in 2019. The United States Preventive Services Task Force recommends that women between 50 and 74 years of age get a mammogram every two years. Women, including those who are between 40 and 49 years old, those with a family history or other risk factor for breast cancer, and those who have any symptoms or changes in their breasts, should talk to their doctor about what screening schedule is right for them.
New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said, “While cancer screenings have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, we will continue to make screening a priority. I encourage women throughout New York State to be screened with the goal of finding cancer early when it may be easier to treat.”
For women who have had to postpone their breast cancer screening, now is the time to reschedule. Doctor’s offices and mammography sites follow standard COVID-19 safety measures, which include asking patients about symptoms before the appointment, requiring staff and patients to wear masks, and frequent disinfecting and cleaning of mammography equipment and waiting rooms. While medical offices are doing all they can to ensure patient safety, women should also talk to their health care provider about their overall health and their risk for breast cancer before scheduling their appointment.
Multiple NYS initiatives contribute to increased screening rates, including the New York State Cancer Services Program, which provides screening to uninsured women in every county. The State also has programs focused on educating women about the importance of screening and encouraging them to call their health care providers. Other programs focus on removing barriers to screening, such as a mobile mammography program currently serving 40 counties and a patient navigation program that provide one on one assistance to women.
State laws in place since 2016 are making it easier for women to be screened by extending hours for screening and offering public employees paid time off for screenings. Additionally, in August 2019, Governor Cuomo signed Shannon’s Law, requiring large group insurers to cover medically necessary mammograms for women aged 35 to 39.
Breast cancer screening is covered by most health plans, including Medicaid and health plans participating in the New York State of Health. More information about the screening program for the uninsured and other NYS Breast Cancer Programs can be found here. All New Yorkers are encouraged to join in related activities during this month-long observance to help raise support and awareness.