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Breast Cancer Detection Saves Lives Of Women
By Chantel Lott
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Breast cancer is a leading cause of death in women in Mississippi, but early detection and treatment mean a better chance for survival.
"Many women think that breast cancer will never affect them, but it can happen to anyone at anytime," said Linda Patterson, health and safety specialist with Mississippi State University's Extension Service.
"Some women discover lumps that could be treated successfully, but hesitate to get medical treatment in time," Patterson said. "Early detection and treatment of breast cancer is the best means to fight back."
Mammograms, or an X-ray of the breast, are the most effective detection method. It is important for women over age 40 to have mammograms annually.
The United Health Group, the nation's second largest health insurer, claims that Mississippi is the most unhealthy of all 50 states. United Health bases its studies on diseases, deaths, working conditions, health care, smoking, infant mortality and crime rates.
"We realize that the people most likely to not make annual screening examinations are those who are unemployed and those without health care. Many partnerships in the state are working to increase the access to mammograms for women in the state," Patterson said.
Winston County has a program that has proven to be effective in educating women about breast cancer prevention and breast self exams. At a luncheon fashion show, where seating is sponsored by local businesses, breast cancer survivors model the latest fashions, give testimonies and encourage women to detect problems early.
"Luncheon attendees are mostly women who are less likely to plan annual screening exams because of unemployment or a variety of other reasons, and it seems to work extremely well at increasing awareness," said Glenda Gregory, Extension home economist in Winston County.
"In just four years, the luncheon has impacted the percentage of women on Medicare that have annual mammograms. In 1996, only 33 percent had mammograms, but last year that number reached 55 percent," Gregory said.