October marks the 17th anniversary of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Since the conception of the program in 1985, the number of women who have received mammograms has increased and the death rate has decreased.
This is exciting progress but there are still those who do not take advantage of early detection.
According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control, the National 2000 Women's Health study showed 37.8 percent of women surveyed admitted to never having a mammogram.
Women age 65 and older are less likely to get mammograms than younger women even though breast cancer risk increases with age.
Mammography use increased between 1989 and 1997 for all groups except American Indians and Alaska Natives, with these groups experiencing a 4 percent annual increase in breast cancer death rates.
Controversy remains as to what procedure is the most effective in diagnosing and treating breast cancer, but no one disclaims the benefits of early detection. The American Cancer Society stands by its guidelines of early detection methods, mammography plus clinical and breast self-exams.
Friday is National Mammography Day. Plan to celebrate that day by calling your health practitioner to schedule a mammogram or urge someone special to make that same call.
You'll be glad you did and so will your loved ones.
Alyson Stogsdill is the Reach to Recovery coordinator for the Kenai Unit of the American Cancer Society.
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