Happy October, everyone! It’s my favorite month of the year. Partly because the leaves are starting to change, but mostly because of Halloween and all the scary stuff it brings with it! I love the decorations, constant stream of scary movies on TV, and haunted houses. There’s just something about Halloween that makes everything magical and exciting. And hey, it’s also one of the only times a year you can eat as much candy as you want without being judged.
But October isn’t only the month of scares and candy; it’s also Breast Cancer Awareness month. Every October, international efforts are put in place to inform the public about breast cancer and to celebrate breast cancer survivors. It’s usually the time of year you see people sporting clothes with pink ribbons, or bracelets that say “Save the Boobies!”.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), breast cancer is the most common cancer among American women. In fact, each year in the United States alone more than 200,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer and more than 40,000 women die from the disease. Those are some scary numbers, so it’s no surprise we’ve dedicated a whole month to this cause.
Most breast cancers are found in women age 50 or older, but recently, about 10% of new cases of breast cancer have been found in women of age 45 or younger (CDC). Because more and more women are being diagnosed, it’s more important than ever to practice preventive measures and keep an eye on your health.
Mayo Clinic suggests preventative measures such as: limiting alcohol intake, avoiding smoking, controlling and maintaining a healthy weight, being physically active, breast-feeding, avoiding exposure to radiation, and limiting dose and duration of hormone therapy (if you’re on it).
Preventative measures should be practiced in conjunction with regular breast cancer screenings. The United States Preventative Services Task Force recommends women from 50-74 years of age to get a mammogram every two years. If you are between 40-49 years of age, speak with your doctor and they will advise you on when to start and how often you should be screened.
If you’re interested in receiving a screening, the Grafton-Taylor County Health Department is here to help. Through our Breast Cancer & Cervical Cancer Screening Program (BCCSP), women are given access to breast and cervical cancer screenings regardless of insurance or income level. To enroll in this program, call the office at 304-265-1288 and ask for one of our Public Health Nurses, or visit our website at www.GTCHDWV.org for more information.