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Early detection key to preventing breast cancer

MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- The pink ribbons predominately displayed during this month are to remind us that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. 

Following lung cancer, breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths. One out of eight women will develop breast cancer at some time in their lives. Research also shows that this year alone, an estimated 40,000 women will die from breast cancer. 

The expression "prevention is the cure" rings true with this form of cancer because a mammogram can reduce the percentage of deaths from breast cancer by 35 percent. 

A mammogram is a specific diagnostic exam that uses a low dose X-ray to detect early breast cancer in women experiencing no symptoms and to detect and diagnose breast disease in women experiencing symptoms such as a lump, pain or discharge. 

Mammography is also important in early detection of breast cancer because it can show changes in breast tissue up to two years before a patient or a provider can feel them. 

Current guidelines from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the American Cancer Society recommend screening mammography every one to two years for women who are 40 to 50 years and older, and every year for women who are 50 years and older. 

Research has shown that mammograms lead to early detection of breast cancers when they are most curable and amendable to breast conservation therapies. 

The 23rd Medical Group encourages you to be an active partner in your health care by receiving a mammogram when necessary. Most women should begin getting this valuable screening exam at the age of 40. 

Women who are at an increased risk for breast cancer, such as those with a family history of breast cancer (mother or sister), having their first child after the age of 30 or having a previous breast biopsy revealing atypical hyperplasia (abnormal increase in number of cells) are likely candidates to benefit from regular mammogram screening. 

Contact your primary health care provider for an appointment for further evaluation. The 23rd Medical Group encourages individuals to take the lead in their preventative health care needs and early detection of breast cancer.