Congressman Pete Olson

Representing the 22nd District of Texas

Raising Awareness for Breast Cancer

October 16, 2012
Op-Ed

Houston Community News
Raising Awareness for Breast Cancer
By Rep. Pete Olson

October 16, 2012 10:56 am

October is the time of year when children have settled into a new school routine and mothers are busy shuffling kids around for fall sports, searching for the perfect Halloween costume and planning for the upcoming holiday season. In the midst of this hectic time, we need to remember that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. An annual international health campaign organized by major breast cancer charities each October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month aims to increase awareness of the disease and to raise funds for research into its cause, prevention, diagnosis, treatment and cure. The campaign also provides information and support for all of the women - and men - affected by breast cancer.

Our approach to breast cancer today is far different from what it was in October 1985, the first Breast Cancer Awareness Month. What once was a silent killer is now a widely talked about, often highly treatable, disease. Greater awareness has helped overcome much of the stigma that was once associated with breast cancer, and women are now encouraged and lauded for sharing their breast cancer stories. As a result, many more women in America today have heard messages emphasizing the importance of early detection and screening, and now know that they should schedule their first mammogram by age 40. Early testing and treatment have led to a decline in the mortality rate from breast cancer over the past two decades, and there are now more treatment options than ever.

While this is good news, breast cancer is still the most common cancer women in the United States face, affecting one of every eight American women. The Center for Disease Control estimates that nearly 200,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year. More than 40,000 women lose their lives to this disease annually. Estimates indicate that this year in the state of Texas, 15,050 cases of female breast cancer will be diagnosed and 2,650 Texas women will die from the disease. The key to fighting this deadly disease is early detection. Cancer screening exams are important medical tests done when you’re at risk but don’t have symptoms. They help find cancer at its earliest stage, when the chances for successful treatment are best. Beginning at age 20, all should practice regular breast self-exams. When women turn 40 and are at average risk for breast cancer, they should begin getting annual mammograms and breast exams.

Many of us in Congress are doing what we can to lower the human and dollar costs of this devastating disease. The Accelerating the End of Breast Cancer Act, H.R.3067, directs the President to establish a commission whose goal is to end breast cancer by January 1, 2020. This commission would identify opportunities and ideas, many overlooked, within government and the private sector that could be key components in achieving the end of breast cancer. Survival rates for breast cancer are higher now because women are getting tested and catching it early! Protect your health this and every month, for you and the people who love you. For more information on cancer prevention, please visit www.preventcancer.org.

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