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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release October 25, 1997
                           AND THE FIRST LADY   
                             TO THE NATION

The Oval Office

THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. I want to talk to you today about the vital importance of mammography in our fight against breast cancer. The tragedy of breast cancer has touched the lives of nearly every American family, including my own. This year alone, 180,000 women will be newly diagnosed with breast cancer, and more than 40,000 women will die from the devastating disease.

Since I took office, fighting breast cancer has been one of my top priorities. We've nearly doubled funding for breast cancer research, prevention and treatment. The recent discovery of two breast cancer genes by NIH scientists holds out great promise for new prevention strategies, and we continue to work to find a cure.

Until that day, we know that early detection is the most potent weapon we possess in our battle against breast cancer, and we know that mammography is the best way to detect breast cancer so that it can be treated before it's too late.

The First Lady and I have worked hard to make mammograms available to more women and to encourage more women to get mammograms. The historic balanced budget I signed into law last summer makes annual mammograms far more affordable for women on Medicare and extends this potentially life-saving benefit to all Medicare beneficiaries over the age of 40.

Hillary has led our national campaign to educate women about the vital importance of mammography, and I'd like to ask her to say a few words about it.

MRS. CLINTON: Mammography can mean the difference between life and death for millions of women. Yet I know from my conversations with women around the country, particularly older women, that far too many think they don't need mammograms because they are past their child-bearing years. Others are afraid of mammograms. Still others don't know that their health insurance covers the test.

The National Mammography Campaign was launched to dispel myths and fears about mammography and to increase public awareness about Medicare coverage of mammograms. In the last three years, through community outreach, public service announcements, and partnerships with an energized business community, we have made a lot of progress. Now we must work even harder to reach women who, because of income, language, or cultural barriers, are the least likely to get mammograms.

The administration's Horizons Project is doing exactly that, in six of our largest cities. This week we received the project's first report, and it is teaching us a great deal about how to reach older women who have not been getting mammograms. We are looking forward to taking what we have learned and bringing this knowledge to communities all over the country.

THE PRESIDENT: The success of our campaign depends upon our ability to reach as many women as possible. This week, the National Cancer Institute is launching a wide-reaching education program to provide health professionals and women and their families with simple, straightforward information about the newest research and recommendations for early detection. These publications will reach thousands of women with a simple message: Mammograms are available, effective and safe, and they can save your life.

When women do go for a mammogram, we must make sure they receive the highest quality care. High-quality mammograms can detect the vast majority of breast tumors and, when followed by prompt treatment, can reduce the risk of death by as much as 30 percent. Women need and deserve that security.

That is why today I'm pleased to announce new FDA regulations that will ensure medical facilities, health providers and detection equipment are all held to the highest possible standards so that every women gets the quality care she needs when she needs it most. With these steps, we're giving women and their families a powerful tool to fight breast cancer and new hope that the fight can be won.

Thanks for listening.