Oct 192004
 
Authors: Megan Schulz

Jeremy Ross may be a male, but breast cancer is still an issue

that remains important to him. Ross, a junior English major, lost

his stepmother to the disease almost two years ago.

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and according

to the American Cancer Society’s Web site, www.cancer.org, about

39,600 women die each year from breast cancer.

“My stepmom was originally diagnosed with breast cancer five

years ago,” Ross said. “She started by receiving chemotherapy

treatment, but was diagnosed too late and the chemotherapy didn’t

have the results the doctors expected.”

Ross’ stepmother discontinued chemotherapy treatment 18 months

after she was initially diagnosed and passed away after she had

fought breast cancer for a total of three and a half years.

“Chemotherapy took such a toll on her health, so the results of

not doing it initially seemed better until she passed away,” Ross

said.

Sophomore Courtney Reitz knows two women who have had breast

cancer and survived.

“My aunt had breast cancer a little over 10 years ago, and she

had to have her entire breast removed,” said Reitz, an accounting

major. “She lost all of her hair and had to wear a wig. But it was

a really fortunate story because they caught (the cancer) before it

had metastasized (spread).”

Reitz is also good friends with a woman who battled breast

cancer nearly 20 years ago while raising two children as a single

mother. She had to have her entire breast removed.

“It was a big struggle for her to care for her two children,”

Reitz said.

Reitz’s aunt is now in remission and has not had any more

problems with cancer. Both survivors eventually had implants put in

where their removed breast tissue had been.

While their personal experiences with breast cancer may differ,

both Ross and Reitz agree that it is important for people to be

educated about and understand breast cancer.

“My aunt and friend survived the disease decades ago, so people

should be going and getting their exams now because it is so easily

preventable,” Reitz said.

If detected early enough, nearly all breast cancer cases can be

treated effectively before the cancer spreads to the lymph

nodes.

In order to successfully detect and treat breast cancer, the

American Cancer Society recommends women begin having annual

screening mammograms when they turn 40. This recommendation may

vary based on an individual’s personal risk factors.

Each woman’s risk can be individually determined, said Deb

Morris, a health educator Hartshorn Health Service.

According to www.breastcancer.org, a woman is diagnosed with

breast cancer every three minutes in the United States.

Numerous organizations, such as the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer

Foundation, are dedicated to eradicating breast cancer. But until a

cure is discovered, prevention and education remain key factors in

the fight against breast cancer.

The American Cancer Society also states that all women older

than age 20 should perform monthly breast self-examinations.

“A female should begin to know her breast tissue (at

pubescence), so that she will be able to detect a change,” Morris

said.

 

If people have other questions about

breast cancer or need specific clinical help, they can contact the

Women’s Clinic at 491-1754.

The American Cancer Society

recommends the following guidelines for finding breast cancer

early:

* Women age 40 and older should have

a mammogram every year.

* Between the ages of 20 and 39,

women should have a clinical breast exam (CBE) by a health

professional every 3 years. After age 40, women should have a CBE

every year. The CBE should take place before their mammogram so

that any abnormality detected can be evaluated more carefully.

* All women older than 20 should do

breast self-examination

(BSE) every month.

* Women who have a family history of

breast cancer should talk to

their doctor about when to start

screening.

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