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NEWS | Oct. 15, 2008

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

By Judith Blitz Langley Health and Wellness Center

Breast Cancer Awareness Month is a nationwide campaign to increase awareness that early detection of breast cancer in conjunction with prompt treatment saves lives. 

Breast cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in women. Although breast cancer occurs in men, it is rare. 

In the United States, although more than 40,000 women will die from the breast cancer each year, more than 2 million will survive, according to the American Cancer Society. There many risk factors associated with the disease, including age, genetics, family history, obesity and level of activity. However, no one knows for sure what causes breast cancer. 

Females in their 20s and 30s should have a Clinical Breast Exam by a health care provider as part of their routine medical check-up. Physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners and physicians' assistances are all highly qualified to do a CBE. Women in their 20s should also consider conducting breast self exams as an extra precaution. Women who conduct self examinations should consult with their health care provider to make sure they are accurately checking for any changes and abnormalities.

The most beneficial thing a women 40 years old and over can do is to get a yearly mammogram. A mammogram is an x-ray of the breast that can detect any problems. 

Women who have a higher risk of breast cancer, or are uncertain if they are at a higher risk, need to consult with their provider as to screening guidelines.

Since being obese and having a sedentary lifestyle may increase the risk of breast cancer, it is also advisable to maintain a healthy weight and exercise.

Throughout the month of October, the hospital and the health and wellness center will provide free literature about breast cancer in their main lobbies.

Briona Reed, RN, is the Breast Cancer Educator at the main hospital. In addition her many duties, Ms. Reed teaches individuals how to do breast self-examinations and acts as a resource support person for individuals recently diagnosed with breast cancer.

If you would like to learn more about breast self examinations, you can contact Ms. Reed at 764-8224.