According to the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH), more than 15,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer and almost 2,600 women die from the disease each year in New York state. Early detection, however, has played a tremendous role in saving lives and allowing many people to live cancer free for years after initial diagnosis. According to the American Cancer Society, an estimated 90 out of 100 women survive breast cancer for five years or more after being diagnosed thanks to early detection.
A big part of early detection involves educating the public through ongoing outreach. In 1985, the American Cancer Society began a substantial educational outreach campaign and dedicated the month of October to breast cancer awareness. Since then, the American Cancer Society, health care providers, public health agencies and others have worked to raise awareness to improve the rates of early detection and reduce the deaths due to breast cancer every October with Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
One of the first steps to early detection is regular mammograms. Most health care providers recommend women have a mammogram each year. Doctors recommend those with a family history of breast cancer should start getting mammograms at an earlier age and have them performed more often. While certain risk factors cannot be changed, there are other steps which can be taken to reduce the risk including staying physically active, maintaining a healthy weight post-menopause and being informed about lifestyle choices. It is also important to perform self-exams throughout the year. Although it is rare, men can also have breast cancer.
NYSDOH offers free breast, cervical and colorectal cancer screening to eligible, uninsured and underinsured men and women through Cancer Services Program partnerships in every county and borough in New York State. To connect to free breast, cervical or colorectal cancer screening, diagnostic, treatment and support services in your community, call 1-866-442-2262. In addition to linking individuals to health care screenings, NYSDOH maintains updated statistics on cancer and links to information which can be found at https://www.health.ny.gov/statistics/cancer/registry/abouts/breast.htm. Another valuable resource is the Adelphi NYS Breast Cancer Hotline and Support program which has been in existence for almost 30 years and provides many vital services, including helping women find accredited mammography facilities. In addition to help with services, it offers emotional support from trained volunteers--most of whom are breast cancer survivors. For information or to contact the hotline, call (800) 877-8077 or visit www.adelphi.edu/nysbreastcancer.
Breast cancer touches so many lives—from the one who is diagnosed to the caring people around them. It is estimated that one in eight women will develop breast cancer during her life.
It is important to take the time to be screened and in doing so, the life you save may be your own. If you have any questions or comments on this or any other state issue, or if you would like to be added to my mailing list or receive my newsletter, please contact my office. My office can be reached by mail at 200 North Second Street, Fulton, New York 13069, by e-mail at [email protected] or by calling (315) 598-5185.