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Editorial: Think pink in October

By: Karen Crimmings

Karen Crimmings
Karen Crimmings
October is breast cancer awareness month! According to the American Cancer Society, 1 in 8 women will develop invasive breast cancer in their lifetime. Less than 15% of these women will have a family history of breast cancer. It is estimated that approximately 40,000 women will die from breast cancer in 2015. As startling as these statistics are, our current mammogram rates in North Iowa are less than 40%! Meaning less than 40% of women who should have an annual mammogram, actually complete the screening.

Yearly mammograms have helped reduce the breast cancer mortality rate in the U.S. by nearly 1/3 since 1990. The earlier breast cancer cases are caught, the better the woman’s survival rate. This is why it’s vital women begin their annual mammograms at the age of 40.

Many women have expressed reasons as to why they haven’t scheduled and received their annual mammogram. Below are 5 popular myths that I would like to “debunk”!

  • I’m too busy.
    Don’t put yourself last. This is your health and you can’t help others if you’re not healthy. Typically mammogram appointments take around 30 minutes or less.
  • I have no family history, so I don’t need to get a mammogram.
    85% of women diagnosed with breast cancer have no family history.
  • I can’t afford it.
    Most insurance plans pay for preventive (screening) mammograms every 12 months. If you have no insurance or your insurance will not cover your mammogram, financial help is available by contacting the Cerro Gordo County Department of Public Health’s Care for Yourself program at 641-421-9315.
  • I exercise, eat right and live a healthy lifestyle. I won’t get breast cancer.
    That’s great! A healthy lifestyle may lower your risk of breast cancer (and many other diseases), but it doesn’t eliminate your risk. You still need to get checked. (Routine screenings belong on your list of healthy habits.)
  • I can’t feel any lumps during a self-exam.
    Breast cancer can start long before a tumor is big enough to feel. Mammograms can show lumps or specks that may be from cancer, precancerous cells, or other conditions that would require further testing.
  • Breast cancer is no longer a rare occurrence. Most of us know someone who has been affected by breast cancer. The woman may be a relative, friend, neighbor, loved one, co-worker, or spouse of someone you know. Receiving your annual mammogram beginning at the age of 40 is very important to your health, your family, and your future. This potentially life-saving exam is simple and quick! Early detection is key!!!

    On Thursday, October 1st the Cerro Gordo County Department of Public is encouraging everyone to wear pink to recognize National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Please join us!

    Talk with your medical provider or contact the Forest Park Imaging Center today to schedule your mammogram. If you are a women 40 years old or older. If you are without health insurance, contact the Cerro Gordo County Department of Public Health at 641-421-9315 for information about financial assistance through the Care for Yourself program.

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