According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), “cancer is a group of diseases that cause cells in the body to change and grow out of control. Most types of cancer cells eventually form a lump or mass called a tumor, and are named after the part of the body where the tumor originates.” Breast cancer is cancer that begins in breast tissue.
After skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in women. In the United States, one in eight women will develop breast cancer in her lifetime. There are risk factors that put a person at greater risk for developing a particular disease. The number one risk factor for developing breast cancer is being a woman although men develop breast cancer too. Approximately 2,000 men develop breast cancer each year.
Other risk factors include a family or personal history of breast or ovarian cancer, genetics, increasing age, obesity after menopause, being physically inactive after menopause and having children later in life. Risk factors do not mean that a person will develop the disease. If you have one or more risk factors, ask your doctor for recommendations to best protect your health.
The purpose of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month is to raise awareness about the importance of screening and early detection of breast cancer through screening mammograms.
A screening mammogram is a type of X-ray used to help detect breast cancer at its smallest stage. Screening mammograms are for women who have no current breast problems or symptoms. A woman experiencing any breast problems including a lump or mass in a breast or in the armpit or a change in breast tissue should consult her physician right away.
ACS recommends that women age 40 and older should have a mammogram every year. Current research also shows that mammograms are a very effective tool in detecting early cancer and should continue throughout a woman’s life as long as she is relatively healthy.
Although they offer substantial benefit in the fight against breast cancer, mammograms have limitations. A mammogram may miss some breast tumors or it can lead to additional unnecessary testing.
Mammograms remain the strongest weapon in the fight against breast cancer. Because of increased screenings and better treatment options, more lives are being saved than ever before. While lung cancer remains the leading cause of cancer death in women, breast cancer is the second leading cause of death.
In Hispanic women, it is the leading cause of cancer death. More women could be saved if they follow ACS recommended guidelines.
As part of breast cancer awareness month, the Franklin County Health Department is sponsoring a day of wellness for women on Wednesday, Oct. 17.
The clinic staff will be providing breast and cervical cancer screenings as well as other services for women in Franklin County by appointment only.
Women between the ages of 40 and 64 who have never been screened for breast and/or cervical cancer or who have not had a screening in five years may be eligible to receive a $25 gift card.
For more information, see our ad in another section of today’s paper and visit fchd.org.