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Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is the leading cancer diagnosed in American women. Early detection is the key to overcoming the disease.

Each year more than 200,000 women in the United States are diagnosed with breast cancer.  Dr. Robert Mocharnuk (Moe’-chur-nuck), associate professor of hematology and oncology at SIU School of Medicine in Springfield, explains the importance of annual breast exams for early detection of breast cancer.

SOUND BITE:  “Annual breast exams are important beyond the age of 40 because earlier detection saves lives.  Women have been taught that self breast examination is important as well, but in many cases women don’t know exactly what they’re feeling.  So it is important for a trained medical professional to actually perform the breast exam to find and identify areas of concern.”

Dr. Mocharnuk, who is also on the staff of the Simmons Cancer Institute at SIU, recommends that women have an annual mammography screening after age 40.  He says screenings have helped improve survival rates in recent years.

SOUND BITE:  “ . . . mammography does result in earlier detection of disease which translates into a saving of lives.  So I don’t think there is any question of the age group over 50, that annual mammography does save lives.  The number of lives saved between the ages of 40 and 50 is less just because the frequency of breast cancer is less . . .”

Insurance companies and Medicare are required to cover mammography screening for breast cancer.  Low income women without insurance may qualify for the Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer program.  For more information about the program, call the toll-free number, 1-888-522-1282, or talk to your personal physician about breast cancer screening.

This is Ruth Slottag at SIU School of Medicine in Springfield.