Public education and targeted outreach to underserved women through the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program


  • We acknowledge Julie Herson-Steele, Sheri Scavone, and Wendy Gould for their assistance in writing this article.

  • The findings and conclusions in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

  • This article has been contributed to by US Government employees and their work is in the public domain in the USA.


The National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (NBCCEDP) was established to provide low-income, uninsured, and underinsured women access to cancer screening and diagnostic services with the goal of increasing the early detection and prevention of breast and cervical cancer. Although this is a valuable resource for women who might not have the means to get screened otherwise, providing services at no cost, by itself, does not guarantee uptake of screening services. Public education and targeted outreach facilitate the critical link between public service programs and the communities they serve. The purpose of public education and outreach in the NBCCEDP is to increase the number of women who use breast and cervical cancer screening services by raising awareness, providing education, addressing barriers, and motivating women to complete screening exams and follow-up. Effective strategies focus on helping to remove structural, physical, interpersonal, financial, and cultural barriers; educate women about the importance of screening and inform women about the services available to them. This article provides an overview of the importance of public education and targeted outreach activities for cancer screening through community-based programs including examples from NBCCEDP grantees that highlight successes, challenges, and solutions, encountered when conducting these types of interventions. Cancer 2014;120(16 suppl):2591-6. © 2014 American Cancer Society.