In the United States, more than 211,240 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed this year.
Thankfully, significant progress in mammography technology is helping physicians diagnose the disease earlier.
And the sooner breast cancer is detected, the less likely a woman will need highly invasive and uncomfortable treatments, and the more likely she will survive the disease.
As a result, breast cancer survivors make up the largest group of cancer survivors. Mammography screening is the single most effective method of early detection. Therefore, an annual mammogram is recommended for women over 40.
A clinical examination by a health care professional should be done yearly.
Women can take charge of their breast health by performing a breast self-exam every month and understanding their personal risks of the disease—and reporting any breast change promptly to their health care provider.
Special populations at risk for breast cancer include minority and older women. African-American women have a higher breast cancer death rate than women of any other racial or ethnic population. Many women over the age of 60 feel that screening for breast cancer is not necessary.
On the contrary, women over 60 are more at risk, not less, for breast cancer.
In an effort to encourage women to have an annual mammography screening, the third Friday in October has been designated as National Mammography Day. On this day, or throughout the month, women are encouraged to make a mammography appointment.
To find a breast imaging facility, contact the National Cancer Institute at 1-800-4-CANCER.
Throughout the year, low-cost or free mammography screening is available to women who are over 40 and underinsured or uninsured.
For more information, contact the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at 1-888-842-6355 or visit their Web site at www.cdc.gov.
Finally, National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (NBCAM) offers several ways to promote the early detection of breast cancer.
The Web site, www.nbcam.org, provides options to send personalized electronic greeting cards and template e-mail messages to alert friends that early detection saves lives and remind them to schedule their annual mammogram.
In addition, the Web site contains several resources for promoting breast cancer awareness.
For more information, visit www.nbcam.org.