October named Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October named Breast Cancer Awareness Month The month of October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and a good time for women to give themselves and their families the gift of good health by scheduling a mammogram.

The state's All Women Count! program provides age and income eligible women a way to give themselves the gift of good health with free mammograms and Pap smears. To be eligible, women must be 50 to 64 for mammograms and ages 30 to 64 for Pap smears. A mammogram is a safe, low-dose X-ray of the breast that detects breast cancer in its earliest, most treatable stages. A Pap smear is a screening test that detects cervical cancer in its early stages. At many of the program's provider sites, women are able to receive free tests for heart disease and diabetes.

Early detection is the best method of saving lives. 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.

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

Gender and race are the most important risk factors in developing breast cancer. Females are at greatest risk and that risk increases as women age. 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 state-wide 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, call your community health nurse, your health care provider or call 1-800-738-2301.

Information is also available on the Web at www.state.sd.us/doh/Di

sease2/cancer.htm.

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