October Is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

KASIA FAUGHN
El Vaquero Staff Writer

Although the majority of the
GCC population is never
going to be affected by breast
cancer, this month is a reminder
that the issue must not be taken
lightly.

According to the projections
published recently by the
American Cancer Society, about
211,240 women in the United
States will be found to have invasive
breast cancer in 2005 and
about 40,410 will die from the
disease.

The National Breast Cancer
Awareness Month (NBCAM)
started in 1985 as a week long
campaign with only two founding
members on board. Today
many public service organizations,
professional associations
and government agencies
belong to the NBCAM Board
of Sponsors, and every
October they speak up about the
benefits of early detection of
breast cancer. Beast cancer is the second
most common cancer among
women, skin cancer is first, and a
second leading cause of cancer
death in women after lung cancer,
the American Cancer Society
warns. While its definite causes
still remain a mystery to be
unraveled by doctors and scientists,
a number of risk factor have
been linked to the disease.
Some of them are lifestylerelated
and can be controlled.

For example, not having children,
using birth control pills,
drinking two to five alcoholic
beverages a day, and being overweight
have been linked to an
increase in breast cancer incidence.
Regular exercise and
healthy diet are known to reduce
the risk of having breast cancer.
There are a number of risk
factors which are beyond control,
the two greatest of them
being age and gender.

According to the National
Cancer Institute, a woman’s
chance of being diagnosed with
breast cancer increases significantly
with age. A woman in her 30s has a 0.44 percent chance
of having to face the disease,
while a woman in her 60s has a
3.82 percent chance that she will
have to battle breast cancer.
Gender is another great risk
factor for breast cancer. Being a
woman is a single most crucial
risk for breast cancer. However,
it is a popular misconception that
it is limited solely to women.
While this particular type of
cancer is 100 times more common
in women than in men, men
are also at risk for developing
breast cancer.

While a number of risk factors
have been identified, some
of the patients diagnosed with
breast cancer have none of the
risk factors, while others who
have one or more risk factors
never get cancer.

The estimated lifetime breast
cancer risk has been gradually
increasing in the last three
decades. Luckily, so have the
survival rates of breast cancer
patients. Today, thanks to early
detection and treatment, the
overall five-year relative survival rate for women diagnosed
with breast cancer is 88 percent.

Although mammograms are
not recommended for women
under the age of 40, self-exams
are a crucial factor in detection
of breast cancer in young
women. “Learning to do breast
self-exams is very important,”
assures Mary Mirch, associate
dean of GCC health
services.

The Health Center, located in
San Rafael building, offers a
variety of written materials on
breast cancer prevention, detection
and treatment. Nurse practitioners
are available to teach correct
self-examination techniques.
The Health Center is open
Monday through Thursday from
8 a.m. to 10 p.m., and on Friday
from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more
information or to set an appointment,
call (818) 551_”5189.

In celebration of NBCAM, a
number of events are held in the
community this month.

Verdugo Hills Hospital offers
low cost screening mammography
at the Dixie Lee Ratliff Breast Healthcare Center. For
more information or to make an
appointment, call (818) 952-3557.

Glendale Harley-Davidson
will hold the “Ride for The Pink”
on Oct. 23 at 10 a.m. Check-in
begins at 9 a.m. at Glendale
Harley-Davidson, 3717 San
Fernando Road in Glendale. Lunch
and a concert by Cindy
Alexander and Melinda Lira will
follow at noon. Registration
fees are $35 per rider, $25 per
passenger, $10 Concert/lunch
only, $1 each for additional raffle
tickets. To register online, visit
www.ridingforthepink.com, or
call (818) 246_”5618.

For general information on
breast cancer, detection, diagnosis
and treatment, visit National
Cancer Institute at www.cancer.gov. The American Cancer
Society provides breast cancer
information on its Web site at
www.cancer.gov.

More information
on the NBCAM is available
at www.nbcam.org.