Editorial: October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Lisa Yates @Lisa_editor

Here's a big "thumbs up" to the businesses and individuals going pink during October for National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

This is the month we remember those who've lost their lives to the disease, those who've been recently diagnosed, and those who've survived breast cancer.

Despite significant advances in treatment and prevention, U.S. women get breast cancer more than any other type of cancer except skin cancer. Breast cancer also occurs in men, but the number of new cases is small compared to women.

What are the numbers?

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) estimated new cases and deaths from breast cancer in the U.S. in 2012, as follows:

  • New cases: 226,870 (female); 2,190 (male)
  • Deaths: 39,510 (female); 410 (male)

If you're interested in reading more about breast cancer, I recommend NCI's website: http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/prevention/breast/HealthProfessional.

You'll find solid information in an easy-to-read format. One of the interesting facts I read was this statement:

"Based on solid evidence, exercising strenuously for more than four hours a week is associated with reduced cancer risk."

The website said the average reduction rate is 30-40 percent, with the effect being greatest for pre-menopausal women of normal or low body weight. What a great incentive to exercise!

On the site at http://www.cancer.gov/bcrisktool/ there is a breast cancer risk assessment tool designed by NCI scientists to estimate a woman's risk of getting breast cancer. If you take the test, you are encouraged to discuss the results with your doctor.

Of course, just being a woman and getting older puts you at risk for getting breast cancer. That's why I got a mammogram.

Finding the disease early with mammograms and breast exams can save lives. If you haven't had a mammogram this year, go ahead and call your doctor to schedule an appointment.

Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center (MBPCC) is offering free breast cancer screenings at the following locations:

  • Baton Rouge, 10 a.m., Oct. 13
  • Baton Rouge, 5-7 p.m., Oct. 15
  • Bogalusa, 9 a.m., Oct. 16
  • Denham Springs, 9 a.m., Oct. 17
  • Hammond, 9 a.m., Oct. 25
  • Houma, 9 a.m., Oct. 27
  • Covington, 9 a.m., Oct. 29

The breast exams will be performed by a physician or nurse practitioner for women 18 and older. Screening mammograms will be available for women 40 and older who do not have a doctor and have not had a mammogram in the past 12 months. Insurance will be billed for mammograms; there will be no charge for women without insurance. No appointment is required. More information is available by calling (225) 215-1234.

If you are a health care provider offering free breast cancer screenings during October, please send me a press release so I can share it with our readers. My email is editor@weeklycitizen.com.

Lisa Yates is the editor of Gonzales Weekly Citizen. Follow her on Twitter @Lisa_editor.