Work to prevent breast cancer - The Explorer: Opinion

Work to prevent breast cancer

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Posted: Wednesday, October 9, 2013 4:00 am

It’s that time of year again where we start seeing pink ribbons, football players representing the pink and many other businesses and organizations displaying their support to an extremely important cause. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

While October seems to be primarily about breast cancer awareness, I can’t stress enough how important it is to really pay attention to all forms of cancer and all the symptoms associated.

When it comes to breast cancer, prevention is key to survival. While the statistics show more and more women are getting exams and taking more preventative measures each year, there is still that demographic of women who feel they are invincible, claim that don’t have the money or resources and in turn could pay the price with their life.

There are programs out there, there are resources and throughout my career, I can’t stress enough how many lives these preventative programs have saved. When it comes to this disease, age does not matter. I have interviewed women diagnosed in their early 20s, I watched my aunt in her early 50s die from it. It knows no boundaries.

According to the American Cancer Society, breast cancer is the most common cancer among American women, except for skin cancers. About one in eight (12%) women in the U.S. will develop invasive breast cancer during their lifetime. 

In 2013: 

About 232,340 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women.

About 64,640 new cases of carcinoma in situ (CIS) will be diagnosed (CIS is non-invasive and is the earliest form of breast cancer). 

About 39,620 women will die from breast cancer

In the last year, more attention was brought to the disease when Oscar-winning actress Angelina Jolie had a double mastectomy as a preventative measure. While she wasn’t diagnosed with the disease, she did take a test that showed she had a high possibility of getting breast cancer. 

It was a big decision to have both breasts removed even without being diagnosed with the disease, but as Jolie stressed – she watched her own mother die from the disease and did not want to go through the same thing herself.

While many of us may not have access to those tests that Jolie did, we do have programs and services available here locally. From the Susan G. Komen Foundation, to local health centers such as the one in Marana – there are services for all women.

For those with benefits, don’t ignore the opportunity – get the annual tests, follow doctor’s recommendations and never let fear be the reason why you don’t make sure you are healthy. So many mothers just let themselves go because they are so busy taking care of everyone else. For those mothers, just remember you are the one so many rely on – stay healthy.

Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women, exceeded only by lung cancer. The chance that breast cancer will be responsible for a woman’s death is about 1 in 36 (about 3%). Death rates from breast cancer have been declining since about 1989, with larger decreases in women younger than 50. These decreases are believed to be the result of earlier detection through screening and increased awareness, as well as improved treatment.

At this time there are more than 2.8 million breast cancer survivors in the United States.

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