State Senator Bill Perkins (D-Harlem) today urged New Yorkers to observe Breast Cancer Awareness Month by taking the initiative to learn all they can about the deadly disease that one in eight women will develop at some point during their lifetime.
The Harlem lawmaker said the earlier breast cancer is detected, the greater the chances of successful treatment and that screenings for the disease are an important component.
“Breast Cancer Awareness Month is the ideal time to be proactive about your health,” said Senator
Perkins. “Family and friends are perfect motivators for you to take the steps needed to defeat this disease: breast self-exams, regular visits to the doctor, and periodic mammograms.”
According to the American Cancer Society, more than 178,000 American women will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year; more than 40,000 will succumb to the disease.
The National Cancer Institute recommends that women age 40 and older have a screening mammogram – a special X-ray used to create detailed images of the breast – every one to two years. Mammograms can help detect a breast cancer tumor years before a lump can be felt by touch. Women with a higher than average risk of breast cancer should talk with their physicians about whether to have mammograms before age 40.
“Breast cancer does not discriminate,” Senator Perkins added. “Men can get it too, and while the numbers may be smaller, it doesn’t make the disease any less deadly.” Citing American Cancer Society estimates that more than 2,000 American men will be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007 and about 450 will die, he encouraged men to also conduct self breast exams.
African-American women are especially at risk because their mortality rates are higher than other racial and ethnic groups, said Senator Perkins. “That’s why I urge African-American women in particular to utilize the power of early detection.”
An excellent resource for New Yorkers with mammography or breast cancer questions or concerns is the Adelphi NY Statewide Breast Cancer Hotline and Support program, which directs callers to community resources and provides telephone support through volunteers, all of whom are breast cancer survivors. The toll-free hotline, at 1-800-877-8077, has offered information and support for 27 years.
Harlem residents can also get information about low- or no-cost mammograms by calling the Breast Examination Center of Harlem at (212) 531-8022 or the Manhattan Breast Health Partnership (American Cancer Society) at (212) 237-3910.
Senator Perkins concluded: “There are few among us who have not mourned a loved one who lost their battle with breast cancer, or rejoiced when someone we know has fought it, beaten it, and earned the title of survivor. Speaking as a cancer survivor myself, I know that knowledge and detection are the best weapons you have. The key is to take the first step and get screened.”