Breast cancer awareness

(U-WIRE) AMES, Iowa – Many months or weeks of the year are designated as special learning times for certain groups.

There’s Hispanic Heritage Month and Banned Books week, which ended last week. There’s Black History month, which is in February. There’s even a National Condom Awareness Week, which is also in February.

But Friday marks the beginning of a different awareness month, one that could save your life. Friday is the beginning of Breast Cancer Awareness month.

According to the Board of Sponsors of the National Breast Cancer Awareness month, more than 175,000 women will learn this year they have this disease, and more than 43,000 women will lose their lives. Breast Cancer Awareness month was created to reverse this trend and to tell people about the importance of early detection of the disease.

In Iowa alone, the American Cancer Society estimates that 2,100 new breast cancer cases and 500 deaths from the disease were reported in 1999. Many more cases have not been detected and may not be until it’s too late.

We’re in college. Most of us are young, in our late teens or early 20s. But breast cancer can affect us, too – both by attacking us and striking the ones we love. According to the Centers for Disease Control, nearly 40 percent of women 40 to 49 years old, 35 percent of women ages 50 to 64 and 46 percent of women ages 65 and older have not received a mammogram in the past two years.

These women who have developed or may develop breast cancer are our mothers and aunts and grandmothers, our sisters and wives. Get the word out to your loved ones that now is the time to check for breast cancer.

The National Breast Cancer Awareness board says that of the 44,000 women who will die from the disease this year, one third could have been saved if their cancer had been detected earlier.

The National Cancer Institute and the American Cancer Society both say that mammography screening must begin by age 40, but younger women can be at risk, too. Obtain information from residence hall directors, the YWCA or the Sloss House on how to conduct self-examinations. Get yourself in the habit of checking now, particularly if you have family members already afflicted by the disease.

Breast cancer does not have to be fatal. Use this month to make sure the disease doesn’t hurt you or your loved ones.

– Staff editorial from the Iowa State Daily (Iowa State University).

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