October Is Breast Cancer Awareness Month
October 2, 2012

Breast Cancer Awareness Month Promotes Awareness And Prevention

Connie K. Ho for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online

Break out those pink ribbons, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. A number of organizations are joining together with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in this month-long awareness campaign. Many activities during these next few weeks will focus on promoting early detection and prevention against breast cancer.

According to the HHS, breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women and the most common cancer among women in the U.S. For women of Hispanic heritage, it is the most common cause of death. It is the second most cause of death from cancer for those who are of Asian/Pacific Island, American Indian/Alaska Native, black, and white background.

“October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a time to reaffirm our commitment to fighting breast cancer and remind ourselves of the importance of prevention and early detection,” remarked Kathleen Sebelius, the Secretary of the HHS, in a video clip.

The HHS also plans to increase public knowledge on the Affordable Care Act, which was signed two years ago by President Barack Obama and includes mammograms and well-woman visits.

“Under the health care law, tens and millions of women can now get mammograms without paying a dollar out of pocket. And, starting in 2014, it will finally be illegal for insurers to deny coverage to women who are suffering from breast cancer or who are breast cancer survivors. At the same, we´re continuing to invest in promising avenues of research and treatments that can target individual cancers,” explained Sebelius in the video statement.

In particular, mammogram screenings help in early detection and consist of an X-ray of the breast. According to the HHS, six million women received mammograms last year with the help of Medicare. Women who are 50 years of age or older are recommended to have mammograms every two years. Well-woman visits under the new health care law also allow women the opportunity to visit their doctor to discuss personal health care needs, risk for breast cancer, and options to help lower the risk for the disease.

“Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women but when it´s caught early and treated, survival rates can be nearly 100 percent and that´s why the Obama administration is working to make sure all women can get screenings and the care that they need,” noted Sebelius in the video segment.

In particular, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (NBCCEDP). This program offers low-income, uninsured, undeserved female patients breast and cervical cancer screenings. A few of the services include clinical breast examinations, mammograms, pap tests, pelvic exams, and referrals if treatment is needed.

“Since 2001, we have noticed that the screening rate has leveled off. We do not find there is one particular reason for this, but we do find that there are multiple factors that seem to be associated with it. These factors would include things such as inability for a woman to afford her co-pay that is required by her insurance, lack of insurance that would cover these screening services, even access to areas such as not having a facility nearby where she can get to have a mammogram. We also see that some women just really don´t understand the importance of getting a mammogram. For instance, they would think that because they don´t have a family history or because they´ve had previous mammograms that were normal, that they´re not at any risk,” remarked Dr. Jackie Miller of the NBCCEDP in the podcast series A Cup of Health with CDC. “We do recommend that women are aware of their breasts and notice any changes that occur, and if they see any changes or anything unusual, that they should seek the care of their provider.”