No time for your annual mammogram? Well, breast cancer will make time--for you. Don't be one of its victims. As a culture, women in Hawai'i have always had a strong sense of family, 'ohana, so caring for their own health is one of the best ways they can ensure their family's well being. An annual mammogram should be at the top of the list. October has been designated as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, so beat the crowds and make your appointment now.
A mammogram can spot trouble long before you have symptoms or can feel a lump. Having regular mammograms can lower the risk of dying from the disease that is the second leading cause of death in Hawai'i and the nation. According to the Cancer Research Center of Hawai'i's Web site, with the advances in research and treatment, breast cancer deaths have significantly declined. As more women take an active role to improve their health--by regular doctor visits, having annual mammograms, (beginning at age 40 per the American Cancer Society, unless you are in a high-risk group), and following other recommended health regimens--breast cancer statistics will continue to improve and the number of survivors will rise.
What is breast cancer?
Simply put, breast cancer is a malignant tumor that begins in breast cells. These cells may grow and invade surrounding healthy tissue or spread (metastasize) to other areas of the body. The vast majority of breast cancer victims are women, but men can also be affected. Most masses found in the breast are benign, meaning they are not cancerous and do not spread. When a tumor is determined to be cancerous, though, it may be confined within the ducts or lobules of the breast (in situ) or invasive, where it has broken through the duct or glandular walls of the breast and invaded surrounding tissue.
How statistics affect you
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 122.6 to 124.8 people out of 100,000 in Hawai'i developed breast cancer during the years 1999–2007. (The year 2007 is the most recent year for which numbers have been reported). The statistics revealed that Caucasian women had the highest incidence rate for breast cancer, followed by African American women, Hispanic, Asian/Pacific Islander, and American Indian/Alaska Native women. However, the statistics also showed that African American women were more likely to die of breast cancer than any other group. Caucasians were second, followed by, American Indian/Alaska Native, and Asian/Pacific Islander women. So out of those women in Hawai'i who developed the disease, 16.9 to 21.1 died.
Next stop? Mammogram. No money? No excuse. Mammograms are free if you have no health insurance, or are underinsured and meet the financial requirements listed below, compliments of Kapi'olani Breast Center.
Kapi'olani Breast Center's free mammogram screening program
It's no secret that Kapi'olani Breast Center is one of the best comprehensive facilities for the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of breast cancer. In 2008, it was the first center to be designated a Breast Imaging Center of Excellence by the American College of Radiology, and is considered one of the best for mammography and high-risk screening in the nation.
Qualifications for a free mammogram
- Women 50-64 years, or age 40 and up for those at high risk
- Have little or no health insurance
- Have a social security number and income at or below 250% of the federal poverty level ($31,150 or less for a single woman living alone)
For more information and to see if you qualify, call 808-973-3015. The subsequent mammogram could save your life or the life of someone you love. Do this for yourself and your cherished 'ohana.
For more information visit: www.radiologyimagingcenters.com
Cancer Research Center, University of Hawaii at www.crch.org