Monday, October 01, 2012

Breast Cancer - Early Detection is Crucial

It's October, which means it's Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I'm a survivor, which gives me the right to lecture you, so please read.

My friend Bobbie died at age 38 from breast cancer about 25 years ago. Each year the survival rate improves. When Bobbie died, the survival rate was barely 80%. Now it's up to 96%. Breast cancer is a killer. BUT it's also treatable. The key is early detection.

One in eight women are diagnosed with breast cancer. Annual mammograms, particularly in women 50 and older, are essential; however, mammograms alone aren't enough. Women of all ages need to perform monthly breast self exams (BSEs). I had a clean mammogram two months before I discovered a lump during my BSE. Fortunately, I was still stage one when I had surgery. I shudder to think how I would have fared had I depended solely on mammography and waited 10 months!

If you feel something new or different, see your physician immediately. Chances are, it's a false alarm, but don't take that chance. The earlier you start treatment, the better your chances of survival.

I now attend an American Cancer Society sponsored survivors' group that meets monthly, and it is encouraging to meet ladies who have beaten breast cancer many years ago. My friend (and author) Judith Leigh is a 25 year survivor. But any of these ladies will tell you that early detection is crucial.

Please, please, do those monthly checks.