October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Did You Know?  Breast cancer is the second most common form of cancer in American women, regardless of race or ethnicity. Only lung cancer accounts for more cancer deaths in women. In 2011, the American Cancer Society (ACS) reported that 230,480 new cases of invasive breast cancer were diagnosed among women in the U.S., and approximately 39,520 died from the disease. Also, breast cancer may be rare in men, but it can occur and be very serious. ACS reports about 2,140 cases and approximately 450 deaths in men from the disease.

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (NBCAM). The purpose of NBCAM is to promote awareness of breast cancer issues, educate women on the causes, prevention and treatment of breast cancer and to empower women to take control of their health.

There are certain risk factors associated with breast cancer, including age, family history, weight and certain lifestyle factors. The presence or absence of any of these factors, however, does not mean someone will or will not get breast cancer. The simple truth is that all women are susceptible, but there are things that you can do to lower your risk of developing breast cancer.

Controlling your weight, staying active and knowing your family history are all ways to lower your risk of breast cancer. The most important way, however, is to be screened regularly. Mammograms are the best available method to detect breast cancer. Women under the age of 50 should discuss the necessity of getting a mammogram every other year; women ages 50-74 should get a mammogram every other year. Early screening and detection can dramatically increase the success of treatment, should breast cancer ever be diagnosed.

You may be eligible for low-cost or free cancer screenings. CCHD’s Cancer Screening Program offers financial assistance for breast, cervical and colorectal cancer screening tests to those who qualify. For more information, call 791-9272 or visit CCHD’s Cancer Control Program page.