October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in women in the United States. About one out of every eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime.

Risk factors for developing breast cancer include alcohol and tobacco use. Breast cancer can run in families and there are genetic tests for increased breast cancer risk, but most breast cancers are sporadic. It is possible for men to get breast cancer, though this is uncommon. Any male who notices a lump in their breast should have it evaluated.

Due to the prevalence of breast cancer it is recommended women start getting an annual mammogram at age 40 or 50. A mammogram is an X-ray of the breast tissue which can help to detect cancers early, when they are more easily treated.
It is important all women have a discussion with their physican about their risk of breast cancer and find out when they should start having a mammogram. A breast exam performed by a physician should accompany mammography.

If there are suspicious findings on a mammogram, physicians may recommend a breast ultrasound, repeat mammogram or breast biopsy. A biopsy is a procedure in which breast tissue is taken from the breast and evaluated under a microscope. There have been tremendous advances in the treatment of breast cancer in the past few decades and this may involve surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy.

Mercy Hospital in Moose Lake is again participating in the American Cancer Society Screening Program and will provide mammograms for $80 during October, November and December. More information about this service can be obtained by calling 218-485-5578.

In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month Gateway Clinic in Sandstone will have extended hours for mammography on October 22. Funding provided by the Lions will be available to assist uninsured patients. Blood pressure readings, cholesterol testing and flu shots will also be available. Individuals may call 320-245-5597 for further details.

For more information about breast cancer visit the Centers for Disease Control at http://www.cdc.gov/cancer/breast/ or see your physician.