Among the multi-colors of Autumn this month is a beautiful streak of pink. In October, we honor victors in the battle against breast cancer, and cherish the memory of brave heroes we’ve lost. Women’s Health of Chicago supports survivors, many who’ve fought breast cancer multiple times, and now serve as activists, mentors, and tireless examples of how the battle might be won for all. While an update on the war against this disease is mixed with highs and lows, one thing remains constant: early detection is still our best weapon in the fight.
As an obstetrics and gynecology specialist, I’ve walked through diagnosis and treatment of this disease with close friends and patients. I hardly know anyone who isn’t touched in some way by the fight for a cure. For me and many others this disease is personal.
Rates of Detection and Survival in the Battle Against Breast Cancer
The overall survival rate for breast cancer has been growing since 1989. Survival rates among women under the age of fifty are even more encouraging. Increasing survival is credited to treatment advances, earlier detection, and increased awareness.
Thanks to awareness and screening, rates of detection have been on the rise. Better detection uncovers more cases of breast cancer annually – about 307,000 this year. The good news is rates of cure for Stage I Breast Cancer are approaching 95% nationally.Not only does early detection increase rates of survival, women who maintain a recommended mammography schedule undergo less invasive treatment at lower cost. We recommend consulting your gynecologist for advice on when and how regularly you schedule a mammogram based on your age, family history, and genetic risk factors.
Feel Something, Say Something
In addition to mammograms, we stress the importance of patients trusting their own familiarity with their bodies. Whether it’s a lump or an inclination that something is wrong, follow through and get it checked. You may learn your concern is unfounded, or examination may lead in a totally different direction. However, acting on this instinct is a common trait among women who discover breast cancer early.
A Strong Network of Support
No one should battle this disease alone. Agencies and support groups are working to raise funds to increase breast cancer awareness and research. To learn more about how you can donate, get involved, or find your own support group, reach out to the American Cancer Society, the National Breast Cancer Foundation, or Susan G. Koman for the Cure.
What You Should Do
This month is also meant to inspire and motivate women to action. If it’s been longer than 12 months since your last mammogram, schedule your physical examination and mammogram as soon as possible. If you’ve had your mammogram, encourage a loved one or co-worker to schedule their annual exam. It could be the difference in another life saved.
This story is sponsored by Dr. Judith Cothran of Women’s Health of Chicago, located at 4905 Old Orchard Center, Suite 200, Skokie. Please visit Women’s Health of Chicago or call 847-923-6155 for more information.