From Kristin Cooke, Breast Care Specialist, Ethicon Endo-Surgery
October marks the beginning of many things each year: the falling of leaves, the first frost, Halloween and Breast Cancer Awareness Month. You may have noticed the pink ribbons, gloves and hats worn by the players, coaches and refs of the NFL. You have probably seen billboards around your city advertising in pink. And if you have been anywhere near your local hospital, it is likely there are pink ribbons tied around trees or hanging from a banner atop the hospital. Many of you may be thinking, why all of the hoopla?
Well, here are some sobering facts. In 2009, the American Cancer Society (ACS) projects that over 250,000 cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed and over 40,000 women will die of breast cancer. Worse is that thousands of cases will NOT be diagnosed because nearly 50% of woman over the age of age 40 will NOT get their mammograms. If you are like most people, you are probably thinking, this will not happen to me or someone in my life. Unfortunately, the numbers tell a different story.
In this year’s Breast Cancer Facts and Figures, the ACS predicts that women who are currently 40 years old have a 1 in 69 chance of developing breast cancer in the next 10 years. As you get older, the more at risk you become. For women who are currently 60, that risk increases to 1 in 27. Overall, the lifetime risk for all women of developing breast cancer at some point is 1 in 8.
What can you do to take an active role in you and your family’s breast health? The National Cancer Institute (NCI) recommends that women age 40 and older should have a mammogram every one or two years and those women at higher risk should discuss their personal breast prevention program with their health care provider. So as the leaves are changing and the children are getting ready to go trick or treating, make sure to remind the women in your life to get a mammogram. Tell your mother, your sister, your wife and all of your friends that early detection is the best form of prevention.