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Does Breast Cancer Awareness Saves Lives?


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As Sidney Poiter said on the Oprah Winfrey show in March 2007, “I was left with the responsibility to effectuate my own survival. " As adults, we're all accountable for our own survival. Yet as decent human beings, we need to ensure each other's survival by learning what is not always easily discovered, but necessary to know. This is especially true when one is newly diagnosed with breast cancer.

By raising our awareness, we can literally keep death at bay by spreading knowledge, wisdom and courage. It takes either personal experience, or a special dedication to a vision of a better future for girls and women, in order to make a deep, ongoing commitment to breast cancer awareness.

It is so important to get an early diagnosis. In 2006, the American Cancer Society estimated that there would be 212,920 new cases, and of these, 40,970 women would die. Each year, around 1,600 men will be diagnosed and 400 die.

About 30% of patients are women under 40. Women with a family history or other concerns might need to begin screening tests earlier than the recommended annual exam at age 40. Clinical breast exams need to be done at least every 3 years starting at age 20, and every year after 40.

Breast cancer is unique in that it is a disease where there is no known prevention, like there often is with other cancers. We must rely on measures that improve the chances of early detection.

Breast cancer is the second leading cause of death from cancer among women in the United States, behind lung cancer. The five-year survival rate is 90%. For breast cancer detected early, having not spread to the lymph nodes, the five-year survival rate is 98%. Awareness could help save tens of thousands of lives each year by helping women get diagnosed earlier through regular screening.

The death rate dropped significantly from 1989 to 2003, a decline mostly due to the increasing role of mammography in detecting early-stage tumors, as well as improvements in therapy.

New diagnostic methods are coming soon. According to Science Daily, in the future, dentists may be able to administer a simple, non-invasive saliva test for at regular dental checkups. Though not yet approved by the FDA, if this method of diagnosis does receive approval, dentists and physicians could collaborate to diagnose breast cancer earlier.

You raise your own awareness when you:

* Talk with doctors, nurses, advocates, and survivors.

* Read books and articles and visit websites.

* Participate in the annual Breast Cancer Awareness Month events in October, as well as year-round awareness events such as those sponsored by Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

* Do monthly self-exams. Though not all lumps are detectable by touch, 70% is found through monthly breast self-exams.

* Have regular mammograms starting at age 40.

You or someone you know may be the one woman in eight who will develop breast cancer during her lifetime. Develop your awareness and give yourself and someone else the gift of life!

For more information on breast cancer try visiting - a website that specializes in providing breast cancer related information and resources including information on breast cancer awareness.


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