Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Thinking Pink!
It is a sad reality that nearly all of us have been impacted by breast cancer. For instance, you may have heard that in the U. S. alone, it is estimated that one in eight women will develop invasive breast cancer during their lifetime.
This disease affects us all personally, and I have had many friends and relatives that have been impacted by it. Across the country, Breast Cancer Awareness Month has become a symbol of hope, so now is the time to join the cause and help raise awareness in order to make a difference. Our job in this fight is not over until we begin to see a decreasing number of those affected and increasing number of survivors.
While most people are aware of breast cancer, many forget to take the necessary steps towards early detection. Early detection is one of the greatest tools we have because breast cancer that is detected early, in the localized stage, has a five-year survival rate of 98 percent.
With today’s current technology, the best screening tool is mammography. Using x-rays, a mammogram makes it possible to detect tumors that cannot be felt. Screening mammograms can also be used to find deposits of calcium that sometimes indicate the presence of breast cancer.
The American Cancer Society recommends that women should get a mammogram every year starting at age 40, but even before 40, it is important to remain vigilant. In fact, women in their 20s and 30s are advised to have a clinical breast exam as part of a regular health exam, preferably every three years.
A lesser known fact is that men are also impacted by breast cancer. This year alone, it is estimated that 2,360 men will be diagnosed with a new case of invasive breast cancer. While men do not typically get mammograms, they are still encouraged not to ignore breast lumps and to see a doctor if they have even the slightest uncertainty.
For both men and women, early detection is vitally important. However, I know that not everyone can afford to be as attentive as this disease often requires. Thankfully, throughout the country, low-cost or free mammograms are available to those who need it most.
Komen Affiliates fund breast cancer education, screening and treatment projects in their communities. By calling 1-877-GO-KOMEN (1-877-465-6636) you can find these low-cost options in our area. Many imaging centers are also currently offering mammograms at reduced rates in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. To find a certified mammography center near you, please visit the Federal Drug Administration website at www.fda.gov.
As we impatiently wait for a cure, we must continue the daily fight to battle breast cancer. With the holiday season right around the corner, as you begin to think of ways to give back to the community, I would encourage you to get involved and help raise awareness to support this cause.
If you are able, donations can be made at any time to the National Breast Cancer Foundation. There are also opportunities to get involved by simply volunteering your time. For details on how to get involved, please visit www.nationalbreastcancer.org/. Each one of us can make a difference, and together that difference can be even greater.