Governor Rick Scott has proclaimed October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month in Florida. Aside from non-melanoma skin cancers, breast cancer is the most common cancer in women. Survival rates have increased over the last 10 years and early detection continues to be critically important. The Florida Department of Health in Holmes and Washington Counties encourages all women to receive regular screenings to promote early detection and treatment.
“Thanks to screening, breast cancer often is found before a woman has any physical symptoms, but a woman should still know how her breasts normally look and feel so that she can report any unusual changes to her provider” states Karen Johnson, A.R.N.P. DOH-Holmes/Washington County Health Officer.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the risk of breast cancer goes up with age. Mammograms are the best way to find breast cancer early, when treatment is more effective. Women should talk with their health care provider about individual risk factors and the frequency of receiving mammograms.
The CDC recommends regular mammograms and paying attention to the following changes in the look and feel of the breast, including:
• A new lump in the breast;
• A lump that has changed in size;
• A change in the size and shape of the breast;
• Pain in the breast or nipple that does not go away;
• Flaky, red or swollen skin anywhere on the breast;
• A nipple that is very tender or that turns inward; and
• Blood or any other type of fluid coming from the nipple that is not milk when nursing a baby.
The Florida Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (FBCCEDP) provides access to the breast and cervical cancer screenings doctors recommend. The screenings are free or low cost if you meet program eligibility requirements. To see if you qualify, call Department of Health (DOH)-Holmes at (850) 547-8500 or DOH-Washington at 638-6240. You can also call the American Cancer Society National Hotline at 1-800-227-2345 to get more information on the program.
Medicare insurance also provides mammograms to women age 65 and older without a copay. Please call 1-800-633-4227 for information on receiving mammograms through Medicare.