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October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Help make a difference in your community's fight against breast cancer.

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a time to remember those who have lost the battle to breast cancer and support those who continue the fight daily.

Thanks to improvements in treatment and early detection, more women are winning the fight against breast cancer.

As we continue to progress toward a cure, we’re also learning more about how to prevent the disease. According to the American Cancer Society’s 2011 report, with the exclusion of skin cancers, breast cancer is the most common cancer among women, accounting for nearly one in four cancers diagnosed in U.S. women. This year alone, it is estimated that there will be over 232,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer in the U.S., including new cases of primary breast cancer among survivors. In New York, nearly 16,000 women are expected to be diagnosed with the disease this year. It is also estimated that by the end of 2011, there will be nearly 40,000 breast cancer-related deaths nationwide.

Eliminating breast cancer is an ongoing battle, with prevention and early detection being of utmost importance. Self examinations and mammography screening remain the best available methods to detect breast cancer early. Numerous studies have shown that early detection using mammography screenings greatly improves treatment options and survival. While every woman is unique, in general, survival rates for breast cancer can reach 93 percent when detected in the earliest stages.

For mammograms and other early detection methods to be as effective as possible, the American Cancer Society suggests women obtain a regular mammography screening starting at the age of 40, obtain annual clinical breast exams, perform monthly breast self exams, and obtain a risk assessment from a physician.

Measures have been taken by the Assembly to protect women in New York who are fighting and surviving breast cancer, ensuring that they receive the best care possible. In recent years I supported laws to ensure that information relating to the availability and access to reconstructive surgery following breast cancer surgery is provided to all breast cancer patients (Ch. 354 of 2010), require commissioners of environmental conservation and health to produce an environmental facility and cancer incidence map (Ch. 638 of 2008), expand membership of the Health Research Science Board to include six new members who have or have had breast cancer from six geographic regions of the state to give wider voice to breast cancer concerns (Ch. 621 of 2007), and allow community-based groups, which provide counseling, education and outreach services to persons with breast cancer, to receive funding through the Breast Cancer Detection and Education Advisory Council (Ch. 623 of 2007).

Research continues to explore the causes, prevention and treatment of breast cancer. Studies find lifestyle factors and habits can increase the risk of breast cancer. Some studies indicate exercise, weight gain or loss and diet can affect breast cancer rates. Researchers are also learning more about how genes influence breast cancer. About 5 percent to 10 percent of breast cancers are thought to be hereditary, caused by abnormal genes passed from parent to child. A diagnosis of breast cancer can be a frightening event that affects not only you but your whole family.

For more information on treatment, guidance and community support, you can go to www.health.state.ny.us/publications/0401/resources.htm, the New York State Department of Health’s breast cancer resource and information center.

If you are interested in getting involved in the fight against breast cancer this month, please check out the following events which benefit local breast cancer organizations:

Hunter Isle Horse Show, , Bridgehampton, Sunday, 8:30 a.m.

Pink Tree Lighting, , Southampton, Monday, 6:30 p.m.

Shelter Island 5K, Crescent Beach, Shelter Island, Oct. 15, 10 a.m.

Girls Night Out, , Southampton, Oct.19, 5-9 p.m.

Please contact Susie Roden at 631-726-8715 or sroden@southamptonhospital.org for more information on these upcoming breast cancer events.

Early diagnosis and other preventive measures, along with the right treatment, can help save lives and end the battle against this deadly disease.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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