Next month is “Breast Cancer Awareness Month” and it’s not too early to start thinking about the risk this disease poses. Currently breast cancer is the leading cause of death among women ages 40-59. This means that every 11 minutes a woman dies from breast cancer. In Arizona, we can expect 2,700 women to be diagnosed and 670 to lose their lives this year. Higher numbers of women are being diagnosed with the illness — one in 30 women 30 years ago; 11 in eight women currently diagnosed; one in four women predicted to develop breast cancer in the next generation. One of the most important factors for successful treatment is early detection, and the rate of survival can reach 97 percent. with a timely diagnosis.
The American Cancer Society has endorsed the following 3 Step Program for Breast Care to maximize the possibility of early detection:
1. Conduct a monthly self breast exam.
2. Visit a health care professional annually for a breast exam.
3. Have a Baseline Mam- mogram between 35-40 years of age and yearly mammogram screening once 40 years of age.
Take advantage of MOM’s (mobile on-site mammography) visit to Williams on Sept. 22 during the Health Fair sponsored by Williams Health Care Center. This opportunity will save you alot of driving time and can be completed in approximately 15 minutes. A mammogram is a low-dose X-ray that can detect small breast lumps. By the time breast lumps are felt by a patient or her medical provider, the survival rate decreases to 50 percent.
While most women understand the importance of this screening, more than half of the targeted population (60 percent.) do not go for the exam. A surprising 90 percent. of the women seen by the MOM unit admit that they would not have had the test without the convenience offered through the mobile clinic. Don’t miss your chance! Call 1-800-285-0272 to schedule an appointment. You can determine whether your insurance covers you; if not the exam runs $98.
When you come for your appointment bring your insurance card and your primary physician’s name and address. If you have previously had a mammogram, bring the name, address, and phone number of where it was taken so that these findings can be compared to your current screening. Avoid wearing powder, perfume, lotion, or deodorant to your appointment. (Women who have breast implants, are pregnant or breast-feeding cannot be screened by the MOM unit.) Call WHCC if you have any questions — 635-4441.
(Kathleen J. Gallagher is the Family Nurse Practitioner at Williams Health Care Center).