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, other than skin cancer. The chance of a woman developing invasive breast cancer some time in her life is about 1 in 8. Routine screening is an 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 he/she to feel for any lumps or abnormalities and a mammogram is an x-ray of the breast.

No health insurance? No problem! The Onondaga County Cancer Services Program Partnership (CSP) offers free breast exams, mammograms, and Pap tests for women ages 40 to 64 who do not have health insurance. 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 private 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 at to register online.

 

— Article submitted by Emily Young, Public Health Educator