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October 10, 2013 7:42 am

Breast cancer awareness can help defeat it

Written by Tom Lawrence

It is entirely fitting and appropriate that October has been declared Breast Cancer Awareness Month nationally as well as in the city of Powell.

It’s a determined and deadly foe, but one that can and will be defeated. Help join the cause to conquer this illness, the second-leading cause of death in American women — only lung cancer claims more lives.

This year alone, 232,340 women will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. Another 64,640 new cases of carcinoma in situ (CIS) will be diagnosed; it’s a non-invasive form of the disease and is the earliest form of it. In addition, approximately 2,000 men will learn they have breast cancer as well.

About 39,620 women will die from breast cancer in 2013. That’s a terribly tragic number. Many of us have known a loved one, either a relative or a friend, who suffered and died from breast cancer.

But there is good news, as female breast cancer incidence rates began decreasing in 2000, according to the ACS. A decline in the use of hormone therapy after menopause is generally credited for this, according to research.

Earlier detection through screening and increased awareness, as well as improved treatment, also help more women live despite the diagnosis. Right now, there are more than 2.8 million breast cancer survivors in the nation.

They are all too aware of the pain and fear that the words breast cancer have caused. But they are also the heroines who stood strong against it, and helped lead the fight against the disease. We are aware of their bravery, and stand in awe of it.

Here in Powell, Mayor Don Hillman issued a proclamation Monday night making this Breast Cancer Awareness Month in Powell, and the City Council added its support. We thank them for this action, and applaud their statements.

There are other, younger champions in this cause as well locally.

Alyssa Ely of Powell was just 4 when she submitted the winning design for the Susan G. Komen for the Cure® T-shirt artwork contest for its annual run. Alyssa’s design, which we wrote about earlier this year, is colorful and inspiring.

But it takes more than proclamations, designs and public events. There are many things you can do to help yourself and others beat breast cancer.

Drink no or less alcohol. Don’t smoke. Control your weight. Stay active and exercise. For mothers, breast-feed. The longer you breast-feed, the greater the protective effect, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Limit the doses and duration of hormone therapy. “If you decide that the benefits of short-term hormone therapy outweigh the risks, use the lowest dose that works for you,” according to the Mayo Clinic.

Avoid exposure to radiation and environmental pollution. “Reduce your exposure by having such tests only when absolutely necessary,” according to the clinic.

The Mayo Clinic also states that some research suggests a link between breast cancer and exposure to the chemicals found in some workplaces, gasoline fumes and vehicle exhaust.

These are all useful tips. In addition, women should do self-exams every year once they reach the age of 20, yearly clinical exams every year or two from 20 to 29, and yearly clinical exams and mammograms once they reach 40.

It’s a rigorous schedule that continues for the rest of a woman’s life. But such efforts have helped reduce the number of breast cancer victims, and we should be aware of that.

While we support Breast Cancer Awareness Month, there’s a lot to be said for awareness all year long.

1 Comment

  • Comment Link December 03, 2013 7:38 am posted by jo Tiernan

    We have been discussing these arguments for years - my family as yet has no trace of the problem , and hope that we never do - many thanks for this information

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