October is recognized as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The Lincoln County Health Department wants you to know the facts on breast cancer, and what you can do to prevent it.
Among all American women in the United States, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports in its latest data of 2009, that “the 3 most common causes of cancer is breast, lung & colorectal.” The CDC reports from 1999-2009, women with breast cancer shows “incidence & trends have decreased significantly.” Rates of women dying from breast cancer do vary from state to state. However, presently breast cancer is the most common type of cancer following skin cancer and the second leading cancer killer following lung cancer. In Lincoln County, the rate of women diagnosed with breast cancer is 124.1 per 100,000 population and the rate of deaths is 27.7 per 100,000. Lincoln County is one of the few counties where the death rate for breast cancer is on the rise, but not above the United States average.
Men and women can get breast cancer and the chance increases as we get older. “The good news is that breast cancer is treatable,” states Judy Sargent, R.N., Public Health Nurse. With increased use of mammography screening and self-breast exams, breast cancers when they are detected earlier in their development are more treatable. Using mammography can detect the cancer in early stages which can give you a much greater chance of complete recovery. Yet two out of five Wisconsin women 50 and older did not get a mammogram last year. Don’t let fear stop you from getting regular check-ups.
A mammogram is an x-ray picture of the breast that can find breast cancer that is too small for you, your doctor, or nurse to feel. Studies show that if you are in your forties or older, having a mammogram every 1 to 2 years could save your life. Getting a mammogram every year is part of staying healthy after you turn 50. Younger women with a family history of breast cancer or if they are having symptoms, need to be checked earlier.
If all women over 50 followed guidelines for regular annual mammograms, the number of deaths could be reduced by 30 percent and the lives of 13,000 women could be saved annually, according to the American Cancer Society.
Ask your provider about getting a clinical breast exam and a mammogram. If you need financial assistance in obtaining services, you may be eligible for the Wisconsin Well Woman Program (WWWP). This program is available to women age 45-64, with exceptions for women ages 35-44, and enrollment is based on total household income. If you are a Lincoln County resident and you are interested in finding out if you are eligible, please call Judy Sargent, R.N., Public Health Nurse, Lincoln County Health Department at 715-539-1388.