Breast Cancer Awareness Month
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and we are celebrating two decades of advances in awareness, education, and survival rates. Breast cancer, which is a malignant tumor that develops from breast cells, is the most commonly diagnosed cancer and the second leading cause of cancer deaths among women in the United States. Though far more common in women, breast cancer has also been diagnosed in men. The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2004, about 40,580 people will die from breast cancer in the United States (40,110 women and 470 men). Breast cancer accounts for about 0.22 percent of cancer deaths among men. With the proper education, physician involvement, medication, and diet, we can continue to celebrate the decline in death rates and our increased survival rates.

Increased use of early detection procedures, such as mammography screening, has been documented as the number one reason for the steady increase in survival rates. With early detection, new developments in mammography screening and increased awareness of this disease, breast cancer no longer automatically leads to mastectomy or death. Now that breast cancer is a widely publicized disease, even those not personally affected are learning more about early detection and prevention methods. A woman should begin mammography screening tests at the age of 40. However, she should consult her physician to determine when and how often she should be screened based on her family medical history and other factors.

National Mammography Day is the third Friday in October each year and will be observed on October 15, 2004. On this day, many radiologists provide discounted or free mammogram screenings. To learn more about breast cancer, GovBenefits.gov recommends that you visit the following sites:

National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program
The National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (NBCCEDP) builds the infrastructure for breast and cervical cancer early detection by supporting public and provider education, quality assurance, surveillance, and evaluation activities critical to achieving maximum utilization of the screening, diagnostic and case management services. For more information, visit the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program.

The National Cancer Institute
www.cancer.gov

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
www.cdc.gov/cancer