By Carolyn Maschke
Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women – and the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths among women in the United States – but mammography can detect it at its earliest, most treatable stage, says Southwest Health District Health Director Dr. Jacqueline Grant.
“Mammography can detect breast cancer up to three years before lumps can be detected during breast self-examination or by a clinical examination,” said Dr. Grant. “Yearly screenings for breast cancer are recommended for women 40 and older.”
The most recent data available from the National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that while white women had the highest incidence of breast cancer, black women were more likely to die from the disease than any other group.
“To help reduce this disparity, we are stressing the importance of screening to black women. We are encouraging those concerned about mammogram costs to contact their county health departments to learn about the District’s Breast and Cervical Program,” Grant said.
Qualified low-income women 40 through 64 are eligible to receive free mammograms through the Southwest Health District Breast and Cervical Program.
“When breast cancer is found early, treatment is most effective, and many women go on to live long and healthy lives,” Grant said.
“Along with early detection through screening, other ways to lower your risk of breast cancer include controlling your weight, exercising, knowing your family history, limiting the amount of alcohol you drink and learning the risks and benefits of hormone replacement therapy,” Grant said.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. For more information about symptoms of the disease, its risk factors or the Southwest Health District Breast and Cervical Program, contact your county health department or go online to www.southwestgeorgiapublichealth.org.