Women urged to put breast health first

As the nation marks the annual National Breast Cancer Awareness Month this October, the American Cancer Society is encouraging women to choose to put their personal breast health first to stay well and reduce their risk of breast cancer. The Society is reminding women 40 and older about the importance of getting a mammogram and clinical breast exam every year to find breast cancer in its earliest, most treatable stage. In addition, the Society recommends that women ages 20 to 39 receive a clinical breast exam once every three years. The American Cancer Society also recommends magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) for certain women at high risk. Women at moderate risk should talk with their doctors about the benefits and limitations of adding MRI screening to their yearly mammogram.

An estimated 207,090 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to occur among women in the U.S. in 2010, and about 40, 230 deaths are expected. While mammography is not perfect, getting a high-quality mammogram is currently the most effective way to detect cancer early because it can identify breast cancer before physical symptoms develop, when the disease is most treatable.

“Early-stage breast cancer typically produces no symptoms when the tumor is small and most treatable, so it is important that women follow recommended guidelines for finding breast cancer before symptoms develop,” said Galahad Smith, Relay For Life Event Chair for Butler County. On average, mammography will detect about 80 to 90 percent of breast cancers in women without symptoms. Breast cancer survival rates are significantly higher when the cancer has not spread.

“As the Official Sponsor of Birthdays, the American Cancer Society wants women to see the real tangible benefits of choosing to put their health first,” said Smith,  Relay For Life Event Chair. “Women can take action and put their personal breast health first to stay well, fight breast cancer and save lives. More than 2.5 million breast cancer survivors will celebrate a birthday this year thanks to early detection and improved treatment.”

Women can reduce their risk of breast cancer by taking additional steps to stay well by maintaining a healthy weight, eating a well-balanced diet, and engaging in physical activity 45 to 60 minutes on five or more days of the week. Also, limiting alcohol consumption can reduce breast cancer risk –one or more alcoholic beverages a day may increase risk.

The American Cancer Society offers information to help make treatment decisions and access to its programs everyday around the clock through 1-800-227-2345 or cancer.org. The Butler County Relay For Life is held each May at the Greenville Y. Contact Galahad Smith at galahad@centurytel.net or by phone at 334-657-9057 for more information on services offered to local cancer patients through ACS and how to get involved in raising funds and awareness in the fight against cancer.