Provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Health:
Officials from the Pennsylvania Department of Health joined members of the Pennsylvania Breast Cancer Coalition at the Capitol fountain in Harrisburg this week to increase awareness of breast cancer and emphasize the importance of mammograms and early detection.
“Regular screening for certain types of cancer is essential to good health and can save lives,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “Although breast cancer screening cannot prevent breast cancer, it can help find breast cancer early when it is easier to treat. It is imperative that all residents talk with their health care provider about cancer screening tests to find which one is best, and when they should have them.”
The Pennsylvania Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (PA-BCCEDP) is a free breast and cervical cancer early detection program funded by the department through a grant from the CDC. Free services, like mammograms, pap and HPV tests, and follow-up diagnostic tests for abnormal screening results are available for those who are eligible.
Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women, exceeded only by cancer of the lung and bronchus. In Pennsylvania, Caucasian women are slightly more likely to develop breast cancer than African American women. African American women are more likely to die of this cancer. Asian, Hispanic and Native American women have a lower risk of developing and dying from breast cancer.
“Breast cancer risk increases with age, which is why it is so important that all women be active in their health and get regular mammograms, especially as they get older,” Department of Health Deputy Secretary Cindy Findley said. “In addition to yearly screening, there are a number of other ways women can stay healthy and decrease their chances of developing cancer. Some examples include staying away from tobacco, keeping a healthy weight and being active, and eating plenty of fruits and vegetables.”
The American Cancer Society recommends the following screening guidelines for breast cancer:
- Women ages 40 to 44 should have the choice to start annual breast cancer screening if they want to.
- Women age 45 to 54 should get mammograms every year.
- Women 55 and older should switch to mammograms every other year or can continue yearly screening.
- Screenings should continue as long as a woman is in good health and is expected to live 10 more years or longer.
- Talk to your medical provider about the benefits and limitations of breast cancer screenings.
It is important to know that these guidelines apply if you have an average risk for breast cancer. If you have a high risk because of family history, a breast condition or any other reason, you should consult your medical provider.