The Commonwealth Cancer Association is aggressively promoting breast cancer awareness this month and wants women to get tested since early detection is one of the keys to curbing this cancer type that is most common in the CNMI. Starting at age 30, women have the risk of getting breast cancer.
Gov. Ralph DLG Torres signed last week a proclamation declaring October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month at the Pedro P. Tenorio Multi-Purpose Center.
Behind lung cancer, breast cancer is the second leading type of cancer nationally with an estimated 232,340 cases of female breast cancer diagnosed last year, approximately 36,620 of which resulted in deaths according to the National Cancer Institute.
The CNMI cancer registry also listed breast cancer as the leading type of cancer in the Commonwealth where 80 cases, two of which were males, were recorded in a seven-year period. Cervical, oral, colon, and lung cancers follow in that order.
CCA president Bo Palacios said breast cancer is a very important issue in the CNMI. “If we encourage to get the women screened, it is a highly treatable, if detected early. We need your help; no one needs to die. The sooner we get them screened and regularly, as they reach a certain age, the more deaths we could prevent here in the CNMI,” said Palacios.
U.S. non-profit organization komen.org said the older a woman gets, the higher the risk of getting breast cancer. At the national level, less than 5 percent of women under the age of 40 were diagnosed with breast cancer and the rate increases after 40 years old and higher in over 70.
Men are not spared but it is much less common. The older one gets, the more likely a male would get breast cancer, with 68 the age of being diagnosed with breast cancer.
Susan G. Komen established the group as a promise to her sister, Nancy G. Brinker, who died of breast cancer in 1980. The organization has already invested more than $2.6 billion in groundbreaking research that helped reduce breast cancer death rates by 37 percent between 1990 to 2013.
Breast cancer screening and mammograms are some of the ways on how to detect the disease. A change in how the breast or nipple feels and appears, and a bloody or clear nipple discharge are the three symptoms listed by the National Breast Cancer Foundation.
“We recognize all breast cancer survivors on their journey and their strength in dealing with the disease. We will have a very busy October in creating awareness. Thank you, too, for the [Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services] for helping us spread awareness,” added Palacios.
DFEMS Commissioner Clyde K. Norita said it was only last year that they partnered with CCA. “We both have the same programs so it is prudent that we joined forces so we could reach out to our people on Breast Cancer Awareness Month,” said Norita.
The Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. is CCA’s other partner in promoting awareness and battling breast cancer.
CCA and their partners will have a roadside waving in the fourth Thursdays of the month, starting on Oct. 6 and will have educational visits to different schools. Several women would also spend the day helping bag grocery items in all Joeten supermarkets on Saturday, Oct. 8.
A mammography day diagnosis and screening will be held on Oct. 17 in partnership with CHCC while a team up with the Marianas Young Professionals will also help raise awareness with a walk on Oct. 22 and a Celebration of Life at 6pm at Naked Fish on Oct. 28.