By Kyle Thompson
The Utah County Health Department is encouraging women to become involved in the fight against breast cancer this month.
October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and the department will be offering gifts and prizes to women who take advantage of its low-cost breast exams.
Jackie Evans Black, Family Health Bureau Supervisor for the department, said one out of eight women develops breast cancer in her lifetime.
“Everyone will eventually know someone in their family who has breast cancer,” Black said.
Two hundred Utah women will die of breast cancer this year, Black said.
According to the National Breast Cancer Awareness Month Web site, more than 40,000 women will die nationwide.
Another 900 Utahns will be diagnosed with the disease.
Black said the department is seeking to inform women on how to detect cancer and arm them with information to educate others.
Women should learn how to inspect themselves for breast cancer, Black said. Department clinics instruct women on how to examine themselves.
Nine out of ten women diagnosed with breast cancer will find the cancer themselves through self-inspection. But Black said the department hopes to increase the ratio of cancer cases found through mammograms.
Mammograms can find cancerous lumps too small to be felt. This results in earlier detection and a higher chance of being cured, Black said.
To promote the use of mammograms the department is holding Mammography Day on Oct. 20.
Women’s chances for developing breast cancer steadily increase as they get older, Black said.
Women should get their first mammogram at age 35 and have one annually after age 40, Black said.
All women should have some sort of annual breast cancer inspection by a health care professional, Black said.
Although women younger than 35 are at relatively low risk for breast cancer, they should learn to conduct self-examinations and talk to friends and relatives about breast cancer awareness, Black said.
Other health care providers are supporting awareness efforts, as well.
Utah Valley Regional Medical Center will be holding free breast cancer screenings on Oct. 18 and Oct. 25, said Lana Nelson, a writer/editor for the hospital’s public relations department.
Breast cancer clinics are held at the health department every Monday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Black said.
Women wishing to make an appointment should call 370-8738.
The Utah County Health Department is located at 589 S. State St. in Provo.