West Virginia Communities Take Steps Against Breast Cancer

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and West Virginia (WV) communities are walking to bring awareness about the disease to the mountain state. The Mountains of Hope Cancer Coalition, its partners, and volunteers are sponsoring thirteen regional “Walks for Women…Take a Step Against Breast Cancer.”

Wheeling’s walk will be on Sunday, October 9th at the Howard Long Wellness Center.  “Janie’s Walk” will begin with registration at noon and the walk at 2pm.

The Walks are intended to raise awareness about the need for breast cancer screening, to honor breast cancer survivors, and to remember those who have died from the disease. The Walks for Women range from one to three miles long and will take place in Clay, Falling Waters, Grafton, Hamlin, Hundred/Burton, Lindside, Man, New Cumberland, Princeton, Pt. Pleasant, Quinwood, Wheeling, and Williamson. The Walks for Women also raise donations from individuals and corporate sponsors to benefit the WV Breast and Cervical Cancer Diagnostic and Treatment (D&T) Fund.

The D&T Fund, created by the 1996 WV Legislature, helps uninsured WV women who are in need of diagnostic and/or treatment services for breast and cervical cancer. Women must be recommended by their health care providers and meet eligibility guidelines. The WV Legislature allows Mountains of Hope to raise money, through donations, to increase the amount of the D&T Fund. Increasing the D&T Fund allows more WV women to access the services. The WV Bureau for Public Health administers the D&T Fund.

Every dollar raised by the Walks for Women is placed into the D&T Fund. Individual and corporate tax deductible contributions are accepted through the Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation. Last year, the Walks raised over $70,000. To participate in a Walk for Women or to find out more information, call Cancer Prevention and Control, WVU Cancer Institute, at (304) 293-2370.

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. Clini-cal 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 NCI’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, the WVBCCSP at 1-800-642-8522, or visit the WVBCCSP online at www.wvdhhr.org/bccsp.