Staying informed key to preventing cancer

MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- October is designated National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and is dedicated to increasing public knowledge about a disease that will strike more than 212,000 women and more than 1,700 men in the United States each year.

Every three minutes a woman in the US is diagnosed with breast cancer, and one out of every 100 men will develop breast tumors.

While men do not go through menopause, they may still go through hormone changes making them prone to breast cancer. Researchers theorize many male breast tumors may be related to their diets because of meats injected with hormones, processed foods or just poor nutrition.

Everyone should know her or his risk factors:

- Early onset of late menopause

- Diets high in saturated fats

- Family history of breast cancer

- Late or no pregnancies

- Moderate alcohol intake

- Estrogen replacement therapy

- Personal prior history of breast cancer

- Therapeutic radiation to the chest wall

- Moderate obesity

When breast cancer is diagnosed, the emotional and physical effects can be devastating to the patient's health, sexuality and general well being.

Even after treatment, side effects may linger and about a third of the survivors will experience fatigue for years after treatment is completed. Treatment can include chemotherapy, radiation or reconstructive surgery.

Survivors must be diligent about their health care and never succumb to fear or complacency. According to the American Cancer Society, five years after surgery more than one third of breast cancer survivors fail to follow up with annual mammograms to monitor their progress.

When breast cancer is found early, the five-year survival rate is 96 percent.
Over 2 million breast cancer survivors are alive in the U.S. today. Education and awareness are the keys to containing this disease.

The American Cancer Society guidelines for early detection of breast cancer include:

- Yearly mammograms, starting at age 40 continuing for as long as a woman is in good health.

- Clinical breast exams every three years for women in their 20s and 30s, and annually for women 40 and older. Men should also perform self breast exams.

- Reporting any breast changes promptly to a health-care provider.

- Discuss with a health care provider the benefits and limitations of earlier
mammography screenings, additional tests or more frequent exams.

The Women's Health Clinic has an information table, with brochures and free raffle tickets for breast cancer awareness gifts in front of the clinic pharmacy during October.

An information table is also scheduled to be at the commissary and base exchange.
For more information, call Moody Women's Health Clinic at 257-2778.