October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and West Virginia communities are walking to bring awareness about the disease to the mountain state. The Mountains of Hope Cancer Coalition, its partners and volunteers are sponsoring sixteen regional “Walks for Women…Take a Step Against Breast Cancer.” The walks are intended to raise awareness about the need for breast cancer screening, to honor breast cancer survivors, and to remember those who have died from the disease. The Walks for Women range from one to three miles long and will take place in Camden-on-Gauley, Clay, Falling Waters, Grafton, Hamlin, Hundred/Burton, Lindside, Man, Princeton, Pt. Pleasant Quinwood Racine Triadelphia, Weirton, Wheeling and Williamson. The Walks for Women also raise donations from individuals and corporate sponsors to benefit the West Virginia Breast and Cervical Cancer Diagnostic and Treatment Fund.
The Fund, created by the 1996 WV Legislature, helps pay for diagnostic and limited treatment services for uninsured West Virginia women who may not otherwise be able to afford breast and cervical screening services. The WV Bureau for Public Health administers the Fund.
Every dollar raised by the Walks for Women is placed into the Fund. Individual and corporate tax deductible contributions are accepted through the Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation. Last Year, the Walks raised over $130,000 for the Fund. To participate in a Walk for Women or to find out more information, call Cancer Prevention and Control, Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center at 304-293-2370.
The goal of Breast Cancer Awareness Month is to increase awareness about the importance of early detection of breast cancer. Currently, the best method to reduce deaths due to breast cancer is through early detection of the disease. Women age 50 and older should have a mammogram at least every two years. Women ages 40-49 should talk with their health care provider about their screening schedule. Clinical breast exams by a physician or nurse are recommended every three years for women in their 20s and 30s and every year for women 40 and over. Breast self-exam (BSE) is an option for women starting in their 20s. Women should be told about the benefits and limitations of BSE. Clinical breast exams, breast self-exams, and mammograms can save lives. Women should talk to their health care provider about their individual screening schedule.
Many mammography facilities offer reduced rates on mammograms during October. For more information about breast cancer, call the American Cancer Society at 1-800-227-2345 or NCI’s Cancer Information Service at 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237).
The WV Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening Program (WVBCCSP) offers free or low-cost mammograms, clinical breast exams, and Pap tests to women who qualify. For more information about the screening program, call your local health department or the WVBCCSP at 1-800-642-8522 or visit the WVBCCSP online at www.wvdhr.org/bccsp.