According to the American Cancer Society, an estimated 232,340 new cases nationally and 7,430 in North Carolina of invasive breast cancer and 40,030 deaths from breast cancer are expected to occur among women in the U.S. in 2013. The American Cancer Society offers FREE support to help women access mammograms for FREE or at a reduced cost and to those diagnosed with breast cancer and their loved ones. In fact, one out of every two women turns to the Society for help and support for preventative care and following their breast cancer diagnosis. This October, the Society will be using National Breast Cancer Awareness Month to remind women about the importance of breast health.
“The American Cancer Society encourages all women to put their health first. We want women to understand the benefits of early detection, eating a balanced diet, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly and limiting alcohol intake,” said Kathlene Stith, Community Health Advisor at the American Cancer Society. “More than 2.9 million breast cancer survivors will celebrate a birthday this year thanks to early detection and improved treatment.”
Breast cancer is a leading cause of cancer death in women, second only to lung cancer. The Society is reminding women 40 and older to have a yearly mammogram and clinical breast exam. Also, the Society recommends that women ages 20 to 39 receive a clinical breast exam at least once every three years. The five-year survival rate is 99% for breast cancer that is diagnosed in the earliest stages.
The American Cancer Society launched its Community Health Advisor Program in three counties in Western North Carolina two years ago. The program trains local women who inform and navigate women in their communities to lifesaving cancer screenings for breast, cervical and colorectal cancers. The ultimate goal is to address the health disparities facing women in our rural Appalachian communities.
The CHA program has started in Madison, Mitchell and Yancey Counties where women are participating in cancer screening at a lower rate and dying at a higher rate. We know that finding breast cancer early, when it is easiest to treat, can be the difference between life and death. CHA volunteers in each of the counties will inform their communities on the ways to prevent cancer and when, where and how to access lifesaving cancer screenings. For one Madison County CHA, “being a CHA means that I can now be part of the support system and reach out to women and men to encourage their participation in receiving early screenings that will possibly save their lives, just as mine was.” These volunteers are trained to help identify what barriers are preventing an individual from being screened and guide them around these barriers.
For more information or to get referred into this FREE program and to obtain access to FREE mammograms, please contact: Kathlene Stith at 828-675-0305 OR Kathlene. Stith@cancer.org