More than 41,000 people die of breast cancer in the U.S. every year. Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in women.
The key to stopping this killer? Early detection. “There is absolutely no question that yearly mammograms and breast exams help us detect breast cancer earlier, and early detection means more options for treatment and better success,” said Dr. Craig Donaldson, radiation oncologist with the Huntsman-Intermountain Cancer Centers at Dixie Regional and Valley View Medical Centers.
And yet, according to the American Cancer Society (www.cancer.org), Utah ranks last in percentage of women who have had a recent mammogram and clinical breast exam.
Women whose breast cancer is diagnosed and treated while still in the early stages (stage 0 or stage 1) have well over a 90 percent survival rate, and can often keep their breasts. The same is not true of cancers detected in later stages, especially if the cancer has spread to other parts of the body.
The American Cancer Society recommends that women have yearly mammograms starting at age 40. Clinical breast exams (usually performed in a doctor’s office during a routine checkup) are recommended at least every three years for women in their 20s and 30s and every year for women 40 and older. Monthly breast self-exam is also encouraged for women starting in their 20s. If you have had a family history of breast cancer, consult your doctor for recommended screenings. Intermountain Mammography offers mammogram parties at the River Road Clinic, for interested church or civic groups. Contact Tracy Patrick for more information at (435) 688-6418.
If you are uninsured or unable to bear the cost of a mammogram and meet the following qualifying criteria, you can receive a free mammogram at Intermountain Healthcare locally because of generous funding donated through the 2010 Jubilee of Trees. To qualify for a free mammogram a woman should be age 40 or older, uninsured or unable to bear the cost of a mammogram, not currently enrolled in a federal- or state-funded program (Medicaid or Medicare) and a resident of Washington County.
October is National Breast Cancer Awareness month, and several activities are scheduled in southern Utah to remind women and their families of the importance of mammograms and breast exams. The Lion’s Club kicked things off with their “tough enough to wear pink” pink rodeo in September. Other events include:
- Wear Pink Fridays. All southern Utahns are encouraged to wear pink on all Fridays in October.
- The Save a Sister run, sponsored by the City of St. George is scheduled for October 22 (for info check www.sgcityrec.org).
- Pick up free information and/or have a mammogram at What Women Want at the Dixie Center from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on October 21-22.
- The Cancer Education Committee of Dixie Regional and Valley View Medical Center will be hosting the annual breast cancer symposium at the Dixie State College Taylor Health Science building on Saturday, November 5 (For more information visit dixieregional.org/events or call (435) 688-5092. To RSVP call Cheryl at (435) 868-568).