West Virginia Communities Unite Against Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is a dangerous disease, with approximately 1,300 women expected to be diagnosed in West Virginia in 2016. Although mortality rates are decreasing, an estimated 300 West Virginia women will still die from the disease this year. As the fight against breast cancer continues, West Virginia communities are coming together to spread the word about prevention and early detection.

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and West Virginia is recognizing this special month with a variety of activities. Monday, October 3, 2016, marks the 22nd annual West Virginia Breast Cancer Awareness Day. On this date and throughout the month of October, hundreds of West Virginians will gather at courthouses, libraries, post offices, and other sites in every county of the state to demonstrate their commitment to fight the disease that has claimed the lives of so many women.

The goal of Breast Cancer Awareness Month is to increase awareness about the importance of early detection of breast cancer. Currently, the best method to reduce deaths due to breast cancer is through early detection of the disease. Women age 50 and older should have a mammogram every year. Women ages 40-49 should talk with their health care provider about their screening schedule. Clinical breast exams by a physician or nurse are recommended every three years for women in their 20s and 30s and every year for women 40 and over. Breast self-exam (BSE) is an option for women starting in their 20s. Women should be told about the benefits and limitations of BSE. Clinical breast exams, breast self-exams, and mammograms can save lives. Women should talk to their health care provider about their individual screening schedule.

Many mammography facilities offer reduced rates on mammograms during October. For more information about breast cancer, call the American Cancer Society at 1-800-227-2345 or National Cancer Institute’s Cancer Information Service at 1-800-4-CANCER.

The WV Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening Program (WVBCCSP) offers free or low-cost mammograms, clinical breast exams, and Pap tests to women who qualify. For more information about the screening program, call your local health department or the WVBCCSP at 1-800-642-8522, or visit the WVBCCSP online at www.wvdhhr.org/bccsp