October Is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October 4, 2007

Breast Cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths among women, making it important that we take every opportunity to raise awareness, support those affected by this disease, as well as remind the women in our lives to schedule their annual mammograms.

Since the national awareness campaign began in the mid-80s, mammography rates have more than doubled for women age 50 and older and breast cancer deaths have, thankfully, declined. However, there still are women whose cancer is not detected early because they do not get screening mammograms and clinical breast exams at regular intervals.

Breast cancer is a devastating but treatable disease, if detected early enough. Statistics from the National Library of Medicine reveal a 100% 5-year survival rate for persons properly treated for Stage 0 and Stage 1 breast cancer.

While the disease is primarily found in women, men can also develop breast cancer. Although men have less breast tissue than women do, they do have breast cells that can undergo cancerous changes. Male breast cancer makes up less than 1 percent of all cases of breast cancer, and is usually found in men between 60 and 70 years of age.

According to the National Cancer Institute, new cases of breast cancer in the United States are estimated to be 178,480 for women and 2,030 for men. Of these, an estimated 40,460 and 450, respectively, will die from the disease. This is sad to hear when early detection and treatment can prevent many of these unfortunate deaths.

As a community, we can do a great deal to help combat breast cancer. The city of Canandaigua is hosting a month-long awareness campaign called “Paint the Town Pink,” where residents and merchants are sponsoring a number of charitable events aimed at helping fight breast cancer and help women. Events are going on now and I encourage you to come to Canandaigua to share in the fun, through events like Icon Salon’s “Fun, Fashion and Fondue,” to be held on October 25 from 5:30 – 9 PM. The event invites everyone to introduce the Fall/Winter trends in hair color and the newest spa products in a social atmosphere, with portions of the proceeds going to Embrace Your Sisters – an organization dedicated to helping women with breast cancer.

Local events like this highlight just how important it is we raise awareness and encourage early detection. According to experts, if all women age 40 and older took advantage of early detection methods – mammography plus clinical breast exam – breast cancer death rates would drop by as much as 30 percent. Please, take this opportunity to remind and encourage loved ones who may be at risk to have mammograms.

The Adelphi NY Statewide Breast Cancer Hotline and Support Program, New York’s official breast cancer hotline, has been helping New Yorkers get the information they need for better health for the past 27 years. This program has volumes of information and expert staff available to answer questions and help women – and men – find centers offering this service.

Many people assume they cannot afford mammograms, but the hotline and other services like it offer ways for New Yorkers in need to be screened at little to no cost. For more information or to locate an accredited mammography facility nearby, call the Adelphi NY Statewide Breast Cancer Hotline and Support Program toll-free at (800) 877-8077. Callers with limited income can also find out about low-cost and free mammograms.