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Joining the battle against breast cancer

Cortney Bloomer
Carson City Health and Human Services

This column appears in the Nevada Appeal weekly. It addresses topics related to the health of our community.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Each year in the United States, 200,000 women get breast cancer according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The pink ribbons that have become synonymous with breast cancer awareness serve as a reminder breast cancer is a serious health concern and early detection and screening can save lives.

Breast cancer is the second most common cancer in women, behind skin cancer. The good news is breast cancer is most treatable when it’s found early. Screening cannot prevent cancer, but clinical breast exam and mammograms can detect breast cancer and improve the chances of successful treatment.

You can take steps to protect your health:

• Start talking. Learn about your risk for breast cancer and other cancers by talking to family members about your family health history. Also, talk with your healthcare provider about your personal breast cancer risk factors.

• Get screened regularly. Ask your doctor which screening tests are right for you. He or she can make recommendations based on your age and specific risk factors. Starting screening mammography before the age of 50 will be an individual one based on a discussion with your doctor regarding risk factors and benefits of screening. For women over 50, your doctor may recommend a screening mammogram every year or every two years.

• Know your body. If you notice any changes in your breast, like a lump, hard knot or thickening inside the breast or underarm area, a change in the size or shape of the breast, dimpling or puckering of the skin, or nipple discharge that starts suddenly, see your healthcare provider right away.

Carson City Health and Human Services is happy to serve as a resource to women who do not have a healthcare provider to discuss breast health concerns and provide routine clinical breast exams. Financial help may be available for women identified at Carson City Health & Human Services’ clinic who need follow-up care for breast findings.

Many women are afraid to get a mammogram because they fear the results. Remember, screening and early detection save lives. This October, take the opportunity to talk to your healthcare provider about breast cancer. What you don’t know can hurt you.

Don’t Forget: This Friday, Oct. 24, is our 11th Annual Free Flu Vaccine Clinic. Come out to the Drive-Thru flu clinic from 2 to 6 p.m. at the Carson City Corporate Yard, 3303 Butti Way, and get your free flu vaccine.

For information on Health Department services, check out our website at http://www.gethealthycarsoncity.org or like us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/CCHHS.