|The following letter was printed in Ann Landers' column on Sunday, October 9, 1994. It was written by Kaye McIntyre, Executive Director of Elderly Health Screening Service, in conjunction with our Breast Cancer Awareness national poster campaign.|
Dear Ann Landers:
October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Please print this letter, and urge all women 50 or older to do something simple to fight breast cancer - get a yearly mammogram.
Breast cancer is a leading cause of death among women in America. This year alone, about 180,000 women will get breast cancer, and 46,000 will die from it. Despite these chilling statistics, most women whose breast cancer was found early are alive and well.
A mammogram is the best way to detect breast cancer long before any symptoms develop or lumps can be felt. The machines being used today can find lumps the size of a pinhead, up to two years before they can be felt.
Unfortunately, only 20 percent of women 65 and older have yearly mammograms. This is particularly dangerous because the risk of breast cancer increases with age - even if there is no family history of the disease. Women 65 and older are twice as likely to get breast cancer than those younger than 65. In fact, about 48 percent of all breast cancer cases and 55 percent of all breast cancer deaths occur in women 65 and older. Ask your mother or grandmother if she's had a mammogram. If not, offer to make an appointment and go with her.
Many women are concerned about the cost of a mammogram. Medicare now covers most of the cost of a mammogram every other year for women 65 and older. There are also health service agencies that provide mammograms free or at low cost. Your doctor or local health department, clinic or chapter of the American Cancer Society may be able to direct you to low-cost programs in your area.
If readers would like more information on mammography or how to find a local facility, or have questions about breast cancer, they can call the American Cancer Society at 1-800-ACS-2345 weekdays.
Elderly Health Screening Service
Dear Kaye McIntyre:
Thanks for the information. You've done a real public service today.