Sparking Awareness in Breast Cancer

Beverly Irwin
El Vaquero Staff Writer

The proliferation of pink ribbons decorating the city indicates that it is October, and October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Breast Cancer is the second highest cause of death among women in the U.S. overall, and the leading cause of death in women between the ages of 40 and 55.

Although the incidence of breast cancer in young women under 35 is low, the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation Web site recommends that women have a clinical breast exam at least every three years from the age of 20 to 39 and an annual exam after age 40.

The GCC Health Center has brochures on breast self-examinations and fact sheets from the American Cancer Society and National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

While Glendale YWCA offers low cost Mammograms, there are other referrals the Health Center staff can provide to students.

Most women, in fact most people, are touched by the disease in some way, whether it strikes personally or is diagnosed in a mother, aunt, sister or close friend. More than 200,000 new cases of breast cancer are diagnosed each year.

The female breast is a complex structure but not all lumps are cancerous, and not all cancers are fatal. The five-year survival rate for all women is 85 percent and rises dramatically when the disease is detected early.
Even men are not immune to this disease. In 2001, more than 400 men died from breast cancer, unaware that they were even at risk.

Smoking, common for many GCC students, can cause the onset of breast cancer.

Dr. Andrew Weil, clinical professor of medicine at the University of Arizona and an editorial adviser for Prevention magazine, reports in his Oct. 15 Weekly Wellness Bulletin that girls who begin smoking within five years after their first period are 70 percent more likely to develop breast cancer than non-smokers.
There is also evidence that girls subjected to secondhand smoke during this time are also more susceptible to the disease.

Students should become aware of the risk of contracting breast cancer; knowing family medical history, maintaining a healthy low-fat, high fiber diet, exercising regularly and limiting alcohol intake.
It will be worth it later on.