October's Breast Cancer Awareness Month marks a milestone for All Women Count!, the state's breast and cervical cancer program. The program has screened 19,069 women in its 14 years, diagnosing 221 cases of breast cancer.
"The success of All Women Count would not be possible without the 300 screening sites and 950 providers across the state that enroll and screen the women," said Norma Schmidt, Cancer Program Director for the Department of Health. "Partners such as the American Cancer Society, Women's Cancer Network, Susan G. Komen Foundation, Wellmark Foundation and John T. Vucurevich Cancer Care Institute have also been instrumental in promoting screening and early detection."
All Women Count! provides mammograms and Pap smears to women who are income and age eligible. Eligible women age 40 to 64 can receive a mammogram and women 30 to 64 a Pap smear. A mammogram is a safe, low-dose X-ray of the breast that detects breast cancer in its earliest, more treatable stages. A Pap smear is a screening test that detects cervical cancer in its early stages. The program also provides cholesterol and blood pressure screens for heart disease and glucose screens for diabetes.
Excluding cancers of the skin, breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in
South Dakota women and the second leading cause of cancer death. In 2011, the American Cancer Society expects 540 new invasive breast cancers to be diagnosed and 100 deaths due to this disease in South Dakota. However, early detection can save lives and increase treatment options. Women can reduce their risk of breast cancer by controlling weight and exercising, knowing family history of breast cancer, finding out the risks and benefits of hormone replacement therapy, limiting alcohol consumption, and getting screened once a year starting at the age of 40.
Gender is one of the major risk factors for developing breast cancer. Aside from being female, age is the most important factor affecting breast cancer risk. The older a women gets the higher her risk of developing breast cancer. This is why it is important that older women continue to monitor their health and see their doctor for routine screenings.
To find out if you are eligible for the All Women Count! Program, call the local community health services office, your health care provider, or the Department of Health toll free at 1-800-738-2301 or see the web at www.getscreenedsd.gov.
For more information about breast cancer and prevention see the American Cancer Society website at www.cancer.org.