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Mammograms save lives October is breast cancer awareness month

October 22, 2010
Reinbeck Courier

Submitted by Rebecca Camp with the American Cancer Society Grundy County Relay for Life


Every three minutes another woman is diagnosed with breast cancer. Breast cancer will strike 1.3 million women this year and kill almost 500,000, making it the second leading killer of women worldwide- a fact the American Cancer Society is fighting to change. Excluding cancers of the skin, breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in women.

According to the Society, the best way to find breast cancer is at an early stage, usually before physical symptoms develop and when the disease is most treatable. Yearly mammograms are recommended starting at age 40 and continuing for as long as a woman is in good health.

Thanks to mammography, doctors are now catching smaller tumors, and a woman's risk of dying of breast cancer has now dropped 31 percent since mortality rates peaked in 1989.

"This is one screening test I recommend unequivocally, and would recommend to any woman 40 and over, be she a patient, a stranger, or a family member," says Otis W. Brawley, MD, national chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society.

In addition to getting appropriate early detection tests, everyone can take steps to stay well and reduce their risk of breast cancer by maintaining a healthy weight, staying active, and limiting the amount of alcohol they drink to no more than one drink per day (no more than two drinks per day for men).

The American Cancer Society has spent more on breast cancer research than on any other cancer-having invested more than $418 million in breast cancer research grants since 1971. The Society has played a part in many major cancer research breakthroughs in recent history. Some encouraging news: If you do get cancer, you're more likely to beat it if caught early. The five-year survival rate for breast cancer is 98% among individuals whose cancer has not spread beyond the breast at the time of diagnosis.

The American Cancer Society can take you beyond breast cancer awareness and into action. The American Cancer Society Making Strides Against Breast Cancer event unites communities across the nation each year to help save lives from breast cancer and provide hope to people facing the disease.

Since 1993, nearly six million walkers have raised more than $400 million through Making Strides. To learn more or join the movement, visit or call 1-800-227-2345.

This year, an estimated 207,090 women in the United States will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer. These numbers are way too high and you have the power to help change that. I encourage you to tell everyone you know about, and send a mammogram reminder to yourself and to a woman you love today. It works like this: When you send a mammogram e-reminder to someone you care about, not only are you reminding her to get a life-saving screening, you're helping the American Cancer Society to light up the state pink!

To learn more about breast cancer call your American Cancer Society at 1-800-ACS-2345 for free information, or visit The Society offers people facing breast cancer free services to overcome daily challenges, like transportation, lodging, guidance through every step of the cancer experience, and information to help them make decisions about their care.

Women know that reducing their breast cancer risk is important, but they often choose to put the health of others first. I encourage you to let the "pink" you see throughout this month be a good reminder for you to get your recommended tests this year. More women having mammograms can mean more women celebrating birthdays.

Cancer Tests Saves Lives:

21-29 year of age: Tell your doctor if you notice any changes, such as a lump, in your breasts.

30-39 years of age: Inform your doctor if you notice any changes and have your doctor or nurse examine your breasts every 3 years. (Get a regular Pap test as well.)

40-49 years of age: Tell your doctor of any changes and have an x-ray (mammogram) of your breasts every year.

50 years of age and older: Follow the same steps as explained in ages 40-49 and get a regular colon cancer test.



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