Moving beyond the pink ribbons
It’s that time of the year in which the color pink can be seen just about everywhere.
It’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and we are seeing pink ribbons in our schools and pinned to our sheriff’s deputies, pink T-shirts that area school athletes are donning and even pink confections at area bakeries, that while yummy to taste, still denote the importance of observation.
Putting all the pink hype aside, the stark reality is one in eight women will develop invasive breast cancer in her lifetime.
Yes, breast cancer remains a killer of women, but, as always, early detection and treatment remain the best defense in fighting the disease.
When detected early, breast cancer has a five-year survival rate exceeding 90 percent. However, African-American women are most likely to be diagnosed at a late stage, resulting in a 60 percent higher rate of death for black women — with only a 77 percent five-year survival rate, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Age is a woman’s single most important risk factor for developing breast cancer. Yet, suprisingly nearly 13 million American women age 40 or older have never had a mammogram.
Mammograms are safe and the most effective screening tool used to find breast cancer at the earlier stages, according to officials with Susan G. Komen For the Cure.
In 2017, an estimated 252,710 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in women in the U.S., along with 63,410 new cases of noninvasive breast cancer. And 40,610 of those women will die, according to statistics from Breastcancer.org.
Breast cancer death rates in this country continue to fall because determined and dedicated doctors, organizers and survivors are getting the word out: Early detection saves lives.
The American Cancer Society recommends women over 20 years of age perform breast self-examinations every month; women between 20-39 have a clinical breast exam every three years; and women older than 40 have a clinical breast exam and mammogram every year.
We encourage women in the community — especially older women and women of color — to examine their breasts, schedule a clinical breast examine and a mammogram.
Medicare, Medicaid and most insurance companies cover mammograms, and the Affordable Care Act requires all new insurance plans to cover yearly mammograms — with no co-payment — for those women ages 40 and older.
Make the appointment. It’s one of the most important things you can do for you.