October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Stonewall Jackson Memorial Hospital and the Lewis County CEOs Clubs are taking this opportunity to encourage people to learn more about the importance of early detection for breast cancer.
As part of this effort, the group is organizing a Breast Cancer Awareness Luncheon on Wednesday, October 23, at noon at the Broad Street United Methodist Church community hall. Interested participants can call 304-269-8167 to register for the luncheon. The Broad Street Church Women will be taking care of the food for the luncheon.
Local obstetrician/gynecologist William Hamilton, M.D. will be the clinical speaker for the luncheon. Breast cancer survivor Janet Gould will provide the personal story of dealing with a disease that strikes one in eight women.
SJMH is also a Mon Health organizer for a “Pink Ribbon Concert Series” – a fundraiser for breast cancer patients which will be held on October 7 at Thyme Bistro in Weston. Some music tickets for the bluegrass concert are still available. Call 304-269-3683 for more information.
The goal of screening tests for breast cancer is to find it before it causes symptoms (like a lump that can be felt). Breast cancers found during screening exams are more likely to be smaller and still confined to the breast. The size of a breast cancer and how far it has spread are some of the most important factors in predicting the outlook of a woman with this disease.
Most doctors feel that early detection tests for breast cancer help save thousands of lives each year, and that many more lives could be saved if even more women and their health care providers took advantage of these tests.
Regular mammograms can often help find breast cancer at an early stage, when treatment is most likely to be successful. A mammogram can find breast changes that could be cancer years before physical symptoms develop. Results from many decades of research clearly show that women who have regular mammograms are more likely to have breast cancer found early, less likely to need aggressive treatment (like surgery to remove the entire breast [mastectomy] and chemotherapy), and more likely to be cured.
The American Cancer Society encourages women at average risk for breast cancer is to follow these guidelines for mammograms:
- Women ages 40 to 44 should have the choice to start annual breast cancer screening with mammograms if they wish to do so. The risks of screening as well as the potential benefits should be considered.
- Women age 45 to 54 should get mammograms every year.
- Women age 55 and older should switch to mammograms every 2 years, or have the choice to continue yearly screening.
- Screening should continue as long as a woman is in good health and is expected to live 10 more years or longer.
Mammograms are not perfect. They miss some cancers. And sometimes more tests will be needed to find out if something found on a mammogram is or is not cancer. There’s also a small possibility of being diagnosed with a cancer that never would have caused any problems had it not been found during screening. It is important that women getting mammograms know what to expect and understand the benefits and limitations of screening.