October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

When was your last mammogram? Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer detected among women in the United States. African-American females experience higher death rates from breast cancer than any other racial or ethnic group.

Research shows that later stage diagnosis and less timely follow-up care may be contributing factors to this disparity. This is why routine screening is a very important step in the early detection of breast cancer.

All women are at risk for breast cancer, but as women grow older their risk increases. Besides age, there are other factors that may increase a woman’s chance of developing breast cancer. Some of these factors include having a family history of breast cancer, having inherited changes on specific genes such as the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, never having had children, or having a first child after the age of 30.

Breast cancer may not cause any symptoms in its early stages, however, as it develops, symptoms may include:

• A lump or thickening in the breast
• Pain in the breast or in the nipple
• Nipple discharge
• Dimpling of the breast skin
• Flaky, red, or swollen skin anywhere on the breast.

Screening for breast cancer includes a clinical breast exam and a mammogram. A clinical breast exam is an exam of a woman’s breasts by a healthcare provider that allows him/her to feel for any lumps or abnormalities and a mammogram is an x-ray of the breast.

Free mammograms and Pap tests are available for women ages 40 to 64 who do not have health insurance through the Onondaga County Cancer Services Program (CSP).

In addition, the CSP offers free colorectal cancer screening for men and women ages 50 to 64 who do not have health insurance. These services are available at numerous health care provider offices throughout the city of Syracuse and Onondaga County. Call 435-3653 today to see if you qualify or visit the CSP website to register online.

 

— Article submitted by Emily Young, Public Health Educator