Early Detection is the Best Protection
October is widely recognized as Breast Cancer Awareness Month and the Florida Department of Health reminds women to take charge of their health by getting regular mammograms. Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women according the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and based on data from the Florida Cancer Data System, 14,045 Floridian women were diagnosed with the disease in 2010.
In Florida, the mortality rate for breast cancer has been declining since 2000, most significantly in those aged 65 or older.
All women are at risk for breast cancer, however that risk increases with age. According to the CDC, women should begin routine screening for breast cancer at the age of 50, and women under age 50 should consult their health care provider about screening.
A mammogram is the best test for finding breast cancer early, sometimes detecting the disease up to three years before it can be felt. Though breast cancer may not always present signs and symptoms right away, as it grows it can cause changes in the look and feel of the breast including:
- A new lump in the breast
- A lump that has changed in size
- A change in the size and shape of the breast
- Pain in the breast or nipple that does not go away
- Flaky, red or swollen skin anywhere on the breast
- A nipple that is very tender or that turns inward
- Blood or any other type of fluid coming from the nipple that is not milk when nursing a baby
Several resources for breast cancer screening are available to women in Florida:
- Medicare insurance provides mammograms to women age 65 or older without copay (1-800-633-4277).
- The Florida Department of Health offers a limited number of screenings to uninsured women of low income who qualify through the Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program. For more information contact the Florida Department of Health in your county, call the American Cancer Society National Hotline (1-800-465-6636) or visit the website.
- Susan G. Komen for the Cure (1-877-465-6636) provides mammograms for low income women under age 50 in some parts of the state.