All Women Count! helps detect cancer

All Women Count! helps detect cancer October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and a good time for women to give themselves and their families the gift of good health.

Early detection of breast and cervical cancer is the best method of saving lives and the All Women Count! program can help by providing age and income eligible women a way to get free mammograms and pap smears. The American Cancer Society recommends women age 40 and older have annual mammograms as well as monthly breast self-exams and breast examinations by health care providers.

Guidelines for participation in the All Women Count! Program are ages 50 to 64 for mammograms, a safe, low-dose X-ray of the breast; and ages 30 to 64 for pap smears, a screening test for cervical cancer. At many of the All Women Count! provider sites women can also receive free tests for heart disease and diabetes.

In South Dakota, an estimated 600 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year and 100 people will die in the state from breast cancer.

Gender and race are the most important risk factors in developing breast cancer. Being a woman puts a person at risk, but as age increases so does the risk of developing breast cancer. Seventy-seven percent of women who are diagnosed with breast cancer are age 50 and older, other risk factors are a family history of breast cancer, a history of benign breast disease or lifetime exposure to estrogen.

The All Women Count! program has 250 sites and more than 800 providers statewide who can screen age and income eligible women for breast and cervical cancer.

To find out if you are eligible for the All Women Count! program can call your local community health services office, your health care provider, or the Department of Health www.state.sd.us/doh/Disease2/ cancer.htm.

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