Thirty years ago, little was known about breast cancer. It was a rarely talked about disease. Today, breast cancer is in the news almost daily, and much of what we read and hear has to do with breakthroughs in early detection, new drug therapies and new treatment techniques.
While the progress we have made is commendable, we still have a long way to go. Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women, aside from skin cancer. This year alone, it is estimated that more than 230,480 new cases are expected to occur in women, and more than 39,520 women will lose their lives to the disease.
October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a time set aside to educate women about this disease, and encourage them to follow the recommended guidelines for screening. This includes a clinical breast exam about every three years for women in their 20s and 30s, and every year for women 40 and older; and yearly mammograms starting at age 40. Women should also know how their breasts normally feel and report any change promptly to their healthcare providers. Women with family history, genetic tendency or past breast cancer should speak with their healthcare provider about starting mammography screening earlier, having additional tests or having more frequent exams.
Arizona Oncology is encouraging more women to get screened for the disease is a critical step in helping decrease death rates even further. Another important goal is increasing our knowledge of breast cancer through extensive laboratory research and detailed clinical trials. This scientific data will help us better understand what works, how it works and how to make it work better.
As we continue to work on our end toward better knowledge of breast cancer, we hope all women will do their part in the fight against this disease by performing regular breast self-exams, seeing their healthcare providers for regular clinical exams, and having regular mammograms. Together, we can save lives.