October is breast-cancer awareness month
Breast cancer is the most common cancer among American women. It is estimated that 182,460 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to occur among women in the United States during 2008; about 1,990 new cases are expected in men. In addition, The American Cancer Society estimates 40,930 breast cancer deaths (40,480 women and 450 men) are expected in 2008. Breast cancer ranks second as a cause of cancer death in women after lung cancer.
Death rates from breast cancer have steadily decreased in women since 1990, with larger decreases in women younger than 50 (a decrease of 3.3 percent per year) than in those 50 and older (2 percent per year). The decrease in breast-cancer death rates represents progress in both earlier detection and improved treatment.
While we do not yet know how to prevent breast cancer, it is clear that early detection, in the form of clinical breast exams and mammograms, is the most important factor in saving lives. The earlier breast cancer is found, the better the chances that treatment will work. The goal is to find cancers before they start to cause symptoms.
The American Cancer Society recommends yearly mammograms starting at age 40. The age at which screening should be stopped should be individualized by considering the potential risks and benefits of screening in the context of overall health status and longevity. A complete early detection plan also includes monthly breast self-exams and clinical breast examinations by a trained medical professional. Unfortunately, many women, as a result of having no insurance, limited incomes or other barriers, do not always have access to these critical screening tools.
In honor of October’s National Breast-Cancer Awareness Month, the Susan G. Komen for the Cure, Denver Metropolitan and Summit Community Care Clinic are working together to try and eliminate some of the barriers to accessing cancer screenings. They are offering free clinical breast exams and mammograms to women who are noninsured or underinsured, 40 years of age and older, meet specific income guidelines and reside in Clear Creek, Park and Summit counties.
For more information about the program or to find out if you qualify for these free exams, contact Jenniffer at (970) 668-4057. Mammograms can save your life!
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