Cancer Center of Sarasota recognises National Breast Cancer Awareness Month
October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. And since the program began in 1985, mammography rates have more than doubled for women age 50 and older and breast cancer deaths have declined.
This is exciting progress, but there are still many women who do not take advantage of early detection at all and others who do not get screening mammograms and clinical breast exams at regular intervals. Here are some interesting facts:
Women age 65 and older are less likely to get mammograms than younger women, even though breast cancer risk increases with age.
Hispanic women have fewer mammograms than Caucasian women and African American women.
Women below poverty level are less likely than women at higher incomes to have had a mammogram within the past two years.
Mammography use has increased for all groups except American Indians and Alaska Natives. “If all women age 40 and older took advantage of early detection methods — mammography, self breast examination, and where appropriate, breast ultrasound and MRI — if we did all of these things, we could increase the chance of early detection of breast cancer,” says medical oncologist Steve Mamus, MD. “The key to breast cancer screening is that it be done routinely — once is not enough.” The American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends yearly mammograms starting at age 40 and continuing for as long as a woman is in good health. Clinical breast exams should also be a part of a periodic health exam, about every three years for women in their 20s and 30s, and every year for women 40 and over. ACS also recommends that beginning in their 20s, women should be told about the benefits and limitations of breast self-exams. Women should be aware of how their breasts normally look and feel and should report any breast changes to a health professional as soon as they are found. Finding a breast change does not mean there is a cancer. If you’re unsure about how to do a breast self-exam, a step-by-step approach is available at the ACS website (www.cancer.org). Whether or not you perform breast selfexams, starting at age 20 you should have a breast exam by a health professional every three years until you’re 40. After age 40, schedule a breast exam and a mammogram every year. Breast self-exams can miss tumors, as can other methods of screening. That’s why it’s important to rely on more than one method to screen for breast cancer. Regular breast exams by your doctor or nurse and yearly mammograms, along with breast self-exams, may save your life. For additional information, please call the Cancer Center of Sarasota, 941.923.1872.