Free Screenings for Uninsured Women Highlight Breast Cancer Awareness Month
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The Alliance for Breast Care at J.C. Blair encourages women to take steps to prevent and detect breast cancer at its earliest stages. The hospital and its partners are offering free educational information and displays, free gifts for women who get a mammogram in October, and free screenings for the uninsured to encourage women to take control of their health.
The free screenings for uninsured Huntingdon County women are scheduled for October 31 and November 14, and include a free mammogram; clinical breast exam; pap and pelvic exam; heart health and osteoporosis screening. Childcare and transportation are available if needed. Appointments are required and can be made by calling Breast Health Coordinator Kayla Thompson at 599-9760.
Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in American women, next to skin cancer, and the second leading cause of cancer death in women. According to the American Cancer Society, however, the number of deaths as a result of breast cancer is declining, thanks in part to “earlier detection through screening and increased awareness, as well as improved treatment.”
"Many women realize the importance of maintaining their health with regular visits to the eye doctor, dentist and family physician. Yet, it is surprising and sad the number of women who don't realize how crucial it is to add a screening mammogram to their wellness routine,” said J.C. Blair Lead Mammography Technologist Penny Shope RT (R)(M)(QM).
The Mammography Department at J.C. Blair reminds women throughout the year that early detection is the key to surviving cancer. The staff offers three easy steps for women:
• First, examine your breasts once a month, checking for new or unusual lumps. Consult your physician if you feel any changes in your breasts.
• Second, schedule a yearly clinical exam by your physician.
• Finally, if you are over 40 or have a family history of breast cancer and have not had a screening mammogram in the last year, call (814) 643-8624 to schedule your annual mammogram. A physician’s order is required. Mammograms provide a way to detect small tumors that physicians are not able to find.
Women who have their mammogram done at J.C. Blair during October will receive a free gift for taking an active role in the early detection and prevention of breast cancer, made possible by a $2,440 grant from the Pittsburgh Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure.
“It is very heart wrenching to see a woman diagnosed with advanced breast cancer and know that if she would have had annual screening mammograms her breast cancer would have been detected earlier,” Shope shares. “There are many reasons to put off having a mammogram: You're shy. You're nervous. You're busy or you just don't have time. There is ONE great reason for not putting it off: Mammography saves lives! Have a mammogram. Have peace of mind."
Several risk factors increase a woman’s chance of developing breast cancer in her lifetime. Some risk factors are beyond a woman’s control: Age - Women over age 60 are at greatest risk. Personal history and family history of breast cancer increase risk. Menstrual history - Woman that began to menstruate early (before age 12) and/or went through menopause late (after age 55) are at increased risk. Reproductive history - Women who have never had children or have had their first child later in life are at greater risk. Some risk factors a woman may control: Weight - Women who are obese (with a BMI of greater than 30) after menopause have 1.5 times the risk of developing breast cancer compared to women of a healthy weight. Physical activity – Women who are more active (walking 30 minutes per day) reduce their risk. Alcoholic beverages – Women who have two or more drinks each day increase their risk of getting breast cancer by about 25%.
For more information on breast health and Breast Cancer Awareness Month activities, contact the Alliance for Breast Care at J.C. Blair at (814) 599-9760 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; the American Cancer Society at 1-800-ACS-2345 or visit www.cancer.org; or Susan G. Komen for the Cure at 1-877-GO KOMEN or visit www.komen.org.
The Alliance for Breast Care at J.C. Blair and its Power of Pink outreach events are supported by a grant from the Pittsburgh Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure.