Many women still don’t get screened; October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month
While the number of breast cancer deaths in Wisconsin continues to show a small decline, state health officials and Wisconsin’s First Lady are encouraging women to get screened, noting that many women are still not regularly examined for breast cancer.
“In Wisconsin, scientists, doctors, and medical care staff are making promising strides in the research, detection, and treatment of cancer,” said First Lady Tonette Walker.
“Because we know that early detection is so important to overcoming breast cancer, everyone should do a selfexam at least once a month, and see their doctor right away if they have any concerns at all.”
The 2010 Behavioral Risk Factor Survey showed that 21 percent of Wisconsin women aged 40 and older had not had a mammogram within the past two years.
“In my years as an oncology nurse, I worked with many courageous women who survived breast cancer, and I saw firsthand how important it is to diagnose breast cancer early, while it is most curable,” said Karen McKeown, Wisconsin Division of Public Health Administrator.
Mammograms can detect breast cancer at an early stage, allowing for life-saving treatment. The procedure can be especially important for women in populations with a higher mortality for breast cancer. In 2008, the age-adjusted rate for breast cancer mortality was highest among African American women, at 31.2 per 100,000.
Women, especially those at high risk and those age 40 and older, should check with their health care provider about the schedule of mammograms and other breast cancer screenings that is best for them.
The national five-year survival rate for women diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer that has not spread to other parts of the body is 98 percent, compared with 24 percent for women diagnosed with late- stage cancer that has spread. In Wisconsin, 64 percent of invasive breast cancer cases in 2008 were diagnosed at the early stage. From 2004 to 2008, the breast cancer mortality rate in Wisconsin decreased approximately 8 percent, McKeown noted. In 2008, however, there were still 720 women who died from breast cancer, a number second only to lung cancer as the leading cause of cancer death among Wisconsin women.
For women concerned about affording the cost of screening, the Wisconsin Well Woman Program is available to provide breast and cervical cancer services to eligible low-income women aged 45- 64 that have little or no health insurance coverage.
To find out more about eligibility for the Wisconsin Well Woman Program, please contact the local coordinating agency in your county. Visit: http://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/womenshealth/WWWP/
For information about Wisconsin cancer incidence and mortality, visit: http://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/wcrs/pubs.htm