The statistics don't lie. Breast cancer is real and develops in 1 in every 8 women in the U.S. within their lifetime. It is the second most commonly diagnosed cancer in American women. But breast cancer is not just a disease of women. It can affect men too with 1 in 1,000 men susceptible to having breast cancer.
Many of us may not be aware of the numbers, but do know that breast cancer has impacted our lives in some way. We may have relatives or friends with this cancer or you may just notice people wearing more pink in the month of October. Whatever the case may be, breast cancer affects us all. The great news in all of this is that if detected early it can be a curable disease.
I recently went to a annual breakfast discussing the efforts we make towards breast cancer. One of the speakers said that being aware of breast cancer is not enough, we need to have more breast cancer screenings, diagnosis, and treatment. I whole-heartedly agree with this statement especially when thinking of the state of minority women.
Did you know that breast cancer is more common in African-American women compared to white women and if you are African American with this cancer you are more likely to die from it? Whoa....that's heavy stuff. Knowing these facts, puts lots of questions in my head as a health professional on 1) Why this disparity exists, and 2) What can I do about it?
Earlier this week, I discussed what I do in the office when I see patients. (Click here to see the video.) I spoke about the importance of an annual woman's visit. During a woman's annual visit, I am able to talk to patients about getting mammograms done and their family's medical history. I try to be intentional with this knowing that certain things can put a woman more at risk. For instance, if a woman has a first degree relative (mother, sister, or daughter) with breast cancer, that nearly doubles the risk of that individual having the disease. Having these specific doctor's visit to discuss topics like this can be very important.
What disheartens me the most is that some people do not have access to seeing doctors or other health professional. So what happens to these people? Do they not have the right to be screened and treated like everyone else? Thankfully, we do have resources for all women! Communities all of the country are now providing mammograms free of charge.
The CDC Website has a list of places in your community that can provide these resources to you or others you may know. Even if you google for free breast screening sites in your area, you are likely to find a place that is offering this service.
My hope is that you can share this article with someone who may not have medical insurance or doesn't go to medical appointments. We still have options for you! It's time to be MORE than AWARE about Breast Cancer. It's time for us to get rid of it all together.