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Early cancer detection can save lives

More than 25 percent of Mississippi women do not receive regular breast cancer screenings, according to the state Dept. of Health.  Reducing that number could increase the number of lives saved.

Breast cancer is a disease that touches so many of us. Just about everyone knows someone who has been affected by it.

Any woman can get breast cancer at any age, but some are more likely to be affected than others, the health agency reported. African-American women are more likely than all other women to die from breast cancer. Older women are at higher risk, especially those over 50. Being overweight increases the risk of breast cancer after menopause.

The key to surviving breast cancer is catching it early. The Dept. of Health recommends that women be screened every two years. It offers low-cost screenings for the uninsured, the medically underserved, minorities and elderly women. Mammography screening is available through contracted providers to uninsured women between 50 and 64 years of age. Women 40 to 49 are eligible for screening mammograms when special funding is available.

Women are also encouraged to do self-exams each month.

Living a healthy lifestyle can help prevent breast cancer from occurring or re-occurring. Eating right, staying active and quitting smoking are great steps toward a healthy lifestyle.

“A healthy weight and regular physical activity lower your risk of developing breast cancer, and a diet rich in fruits and vegetables may help with breast cancer prevention. Quitting smoking is an essential step in preventing a wide range of cancers,” the health agency reported on its website.

October is the month set aside to bring awareness to breast cancer. Don’t let it pass without scheduling a screening if one is needed. Early detection can save lives, maybe your own.