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Time for Moore: Flattening the curve

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, though for many that designation may well take a backseat to the pleasures of autumnal colors and frenzied (or focused) Halloween candy-buying.

JANE MOORE
Jane Turpin Moore
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Human behavior is endlessly fascinating.

I mean, consider last summer's Mega Millions lottery. Sure, the top prize exceeded $1.3 billion, but with tens of millions buying tickets, was it really worth it for you to chuck another $2 of your hard-earned cash into the mix?

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Short answer: No. The odds YOU would win it all were an astoundingly low one in 302.5 million, according to a July 2022 Money Watch article.

And yet, far too many women fail to prioritize scheduling mammograms when their doctors recommend them, even though they face astronomically higher odds of confronting a breast cancer diagnosis than of winning even a $1 million lottery.

Significantly, one of every eight U.S. women will develop invasive breast cancer during her lifetime (statistics cited here were obtained from breastcancer.org). And lest you think you’re “marked safe from breast cancer” because your mom, aunt or sister never had it, think again: 85% of those afflicted have no family history of the insidious disease.

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In 2022, as many as 287,850 new cases are expected to be diagnosed in the U.S. alone; globally, breast cancer is the most likely cancerous monster to strike all women, the World Health Organization has assessed. Around 43,250 women will die this year from breast cancer, which is second only to lung cancer in cancer’s toll on American females.

The good news is that breast cancer rates have been dropping in our country since 2000. An annual decrease of 1% was realized in the U.S. from 2013-18.

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, though for many that designation may well take a backseat to the pleasures of autumnal colors and frenzied (or focused) Halloween candy-buying. Katie Couric's announcement last week that in June she, too, joined the ranks of breast cancer patients jolted me to pick up the "schedule your mammogram" postcard that had been languishing on a kitchen countertop for a couple of weeks.

No, to date I haven't personally faced breast cancer, but since I fall into the category of women with more dense than fatty breast tissue (nearly 50% of us), I have had two brushes with its possibility — once when I was only 24 and once when I had just cleared 50.

Each time it was lucky I’d made an appointment for an annual exam, had ready access to qualified medical professionals and institutions and was smart enough to submit to the recommended assessment/biopsy/follow-up processes (even though, admittedly, I was reluctant to make the time).

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Fortunately, I heard the word “benign” following both incidents. But those darn dense breasts! Trust me, I hate stripping to the waist, standing vulnerably in a cool dark room while anticipating a door knock and surrendering my boobs to a cold machine and the gentle but directive hands of skilled mammographers as much as the next girl.

Having your body parts pushed, prodded and smashed into position can’t be anyone’s favorite half-hour of a day — can it?

But such exams are vital to early detection and prevention of metastatic breast cancer, and they can be the difference between ongoing life (the five-year survival rate for breast cancer patients is 90%) and death.

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My 2022 appointment is now on my Google calendar. Any number of maladies or accidents can prematurely shorten or complicate our lives, but regular screenings mean breast cancer doesn't have to top that list.

If you have six extra bucks in your wallet, treat yourself to a hand-crafted pumpkin spice latte, then contact your health care provider to be sure your annual exam and/or mammogram is timely.

Because the odds you’ll enjoy a caffeine buzz and benefit from early breast cancer detection are way higher than the chance you’ll ever choose a winning lottery ticket.

Related Topics: WORTHINGTONHEALTH
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