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Posted on October 2, 2023 at 8:39 AM by Bridget Craker
Breast cancer is the second most common cancer among women in America, just behind skin cancer. According to the CDC, each year in the United States, about 240,000 women get breast cancer, and 42,000 women die from the disease. For decades, October has been recognized as Breast Cancer Awareness Month; some of the purposes of this month are to educate people about the disease and to raise awareness about the importance of early detection.
Just like with many other cancers and diseases, certain risk factors may impact people’s chances of developing breast cancer. Being a woman is one of the main risk factors for breast cancer, although men can also develop the disease; about 1 out of every 100 cases of breast cancer in the U.S. are among men. Additionally, age is another crucial risk factor; the majority of breast cancers are found in women above the age of 50. Lastly, genetics can impact a person’s likelihood of developing breast cancer, most notably having changes in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes.
It’s recommended that women with an average risk of developing breast cancer start getting mammograms at age 50. Community members can talk with their healthcare provider about their breast cancer risk and when to start getting mammograms. Mammograms are the best way to find breast cancer early before it is big enough to feel or cause symptoms and when it is easier to treat. Some symptoms of breast cancer include changes in the size or the shape of the breast, a new lump in the breast or underarm, pain in any area of the breast, and nipple discharge other than breast milk (including blood). If someone has these symptoms or others that concern them, they should talk with their healthcare provider.
Women who don’t have health insurance or who are underinsured can still get essential screenings done through the Wisconsin Well Woman Program (WWP). The WWP helps women who have little or no health insurance get screening for breast and cervical cancers without having to pay a co-payment, deductible, or premium. There are specific eligibility requirements for this program, including being a woman between ages 40 and 64, not having health insurance, living in Wisconsin, and meeting specific income requirements. To learn more about this program and eligibility requirements or to ask questions, contact the WWP Coordinator for Green County, Jennifer Froh, at 608-847-9455.