October is nationally recognized Breast Cancer Awareness Month and the Vilas County Public Health Department wants people to know the facts about breast cancer, and how they can prevent it.
Breast cancer is the second leading killer of American women, followed by lung cancer. Other than skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common type of cancer among women in the United States today. Any woman can get breast cancer, with chances increasing as a woman gets older.
However, with increased use of mammography screening and self-breast exams, breast cancers are detected earlier in their development when they are more treatable. Discovering breast cancer early gives a person a much greater chance of complete recovery. Yet two out of five Wisconsin women 50 and older did not get a mammogram last year.
A mammogram is an x-ray picture of the breast. It can find breast cancer that is too small for even a doctor or nurse to feel. Studies show that for those in their forties or older, having a mammogram every one to two years could save their lives. Getting a mammogram every year is part of staying healthy after turning 50.
If all women over 50 followed guidelines for regular annual mammograms, the number of deaths could be reduced by 30 percent and the lives of 13,000 women could be saved annually, according to the American Cancer Society.
Ask your doctor or nurse about getting a mammogram. Those who need financial assistance to obtain a mammogram may be eligible for the Wisconsin Well Woman Program (WWWP). The WWWP is available to women age 45-64, based on income. For more information, call Pam Pedersen, RN, BSN at the Vilas County Public Health Department, (715) 479-3757.