October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Breast Cancer Awareness MonthPink ribbons are a reminder that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. As the pink ribbons and other pink items show up everywhere, they remind us that breast cancer is one of the most common types of cancer, affecting about one in eight women.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services notes that most women can survive breast cancer if it is found and treated early. That’s why having a mammogram, the screening test for breast cancer, is so important.

Swope Health provides mammograms for women referred by their provider. The exam takes place in the radiology lab and most appointments take less than 30 minutes, said Claire Holland, Manager of Radiology. The Radiology team also provides free breast cancer awareness materials and health care tips year-round.

Mammograms are important in detecting breast cancer because sometimes, people with breast cancer have no symptoms and the cancer may not be big enough to feel. According to the Society of Breast Imaging, about 75 percent of women diagnosed with breast cancer have no specific identifiable risk factors.

Breast cancer most commonly affects women over age 50, but about 10 percent of new breast cancer cases are found in women under age 45. The American College of Radiology (ACR) notes that it is especially important for African-American women to receive screenings, because African-American women are at a higher risk for breast cancer.

Breast Cancer Awareness MonthAfrican-American women:

  • Are 42 percent more likely to die from breast cancer than non-Hispanic white women, despite roughly equal rates of cancer.
  • Have a two-fold higher risk of aggressive cancers.
  • Are less likely to be diagnosed with stage 1 breast cancer, but twice as likely to die from early breast cancer.
  • Have a higher risk of genetic mutations BRCA1 and BRCA2, which indicate a much higher risk for breast cancer.

Swope Health follows guidelines of the American College of Radiology, which encourages women to receive a baseline screening at age 35 to 40, and then a mammogram annually from age 40 on. At Swope Health, a mammography tracking system is set up to notify patients when annual mammograms are due.

“Finding cancer early increases the odds of successful treatment,” Claire said. “It’s all about saving lives.”

Learn more about breast cancer from these resources, or schedule an appointment to talk with your provider at Swope Health. We offer a full range of women’s health services, including mammograms, well-woman exams, family planning and prenatal care. Call 816-923-5800 for an appointment.

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