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October is breast cancer awareness month

HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- Soaring Heights Communities handed out pink ribbons before a National Breast Cancer Awareness Month walk began here, Oct. 15. A pink ribbon is a symbol of breast cancer awareness. Individuals interested in learning more about breast cancer or how to show their support should visit www.nbcam.org for more information. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tiffany Trojca)

HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- Soaring Heights Communities handed out pink ribbons before a National Breast Cancer Awareness Month walk began here, Oct. 15. A pink ribbon is a symbol of breast cancer awareness. Individuals interested in learning more about breast cancer or how to show their support should visit www.nbcam.org for more information. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tiffany Trojca)

HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- Members of Team Holloman walk one mile in support of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month here, Oct. 15. The NBCAM organization is a partnership of national public service organizations, professional medical associations and government agencies working together to promote breast cancer awareness, share information on the disease and provide greater access to screening services. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tiffany Trojca)

HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- Members of Team Holloman walk one mile in support of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month here, Oct. 15. The NBCAM organization is a partnership of national public service organizations, professional medical associations and government agencies working together to promote breast cancer awareness, share information on the disease and provide greater access to screening services. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tiffany Trojca)

HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- A display sits outside of the Soaring Heights Community building here, Oct.  15. More than 60 members of Team Holloman volunteered to walk one mile in honor of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Afterward, three participants received gift baskets filled with beauty products through a raffle. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tiffany Trojca)

HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- A display sits outside of the Soaring Heights Community building here, Oct. 15. More than 60 members of Team Holloman volunteered to walk one mile in honor of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Afterward, three participants received gift baskets filled with beauty products through a raffle. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tiffany Trojca)

HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- Except for skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer in women and mammography screenings are women's best chance for early breast cancer detection.

To find breast cancer early, the National Cancer Institute recommends mammograms every one to two years for women over 40 years old, and many organizations encourage annual mammograms.

Clinical breast exams by a health care provider should also be done on a regular basis, as well as monthly self-exams. Women are encouraged to report any breast changes to their health care provider.

Women who still have menstrual cycles should schedule a mammogram, an X-ray of the breast, one week after a menstrual cycle, as the breast will be less tender for the exam. Women should avoid using deodorant and lotions on the day of the mammogram. A specially trained technologist will perform the mammogram and take various views of the breasts. Two flat surfaces will compress the breast for a few seconds. Compression is necessary to produce the best picture while using the lowest amount of radiation possible. Taking analgesics, such as Motrin or Tylenol, may relieve the discomfort that some women experience with mammography.

Women should be aware of the most common risk factors associated with developing breast cancer. As one ages, the risk of breast cancer increases. The risk becomes especially higher for women over the age of 60. Any personal history of breast cancer or breast disease may predispose women to develop breast cancer again. The risk also increases if there is a family history of breast cancer for a woman whose mother, sister, daughter or two or more close relatives have had the disease.

Some individuals may be born with an altered genetic gene that is known to regulate breast cell growth. The altered gene is inherited and increases the risk for developing breast cancer. Other risks include estrogen regulation and early menstruation, having no children, first pregnancy after the age of 35 and use of hormone replacement therapy. However, there are lifestyle choices that can be modified to reduce risks for breast cancer to include choosing a balanced high fiber, low saturated fat diet, getting plenty of exercise, avoiding tobacco use and discretion with alcohol use.

Scheduling a mammogram does not require authorization, although you still need a referral first from your primary care manager. To obtain a PCM referral, call 572-2778, select option one and ask to leave a telephone conference request for a mammogram referral.

When the referral has been processed, you will receive either an automated message or a personal phone call explaining where and when to pick up your referral paperwork.

For further information about Breast Cancer Awareness, contact the National Cancer Institute at 800-4-CANCER.
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