BY ASSEMBLYMEMBER RHODA JACOBS
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month – a time to reaffirm our commitment to prevention and early detection and to honor the brave women and men who have been touched by this tragic disease.
National Breast Cancer Awareness Month was founded in 1985 to bring attention to the disease and effective methods of fighting and preventing it. Breast cancer is the second-highest cause of cancer death in women over the last 25 years. It is estimated that 234,580 new cases will be recorded throughout the country this year, 232,340 of which will be inflicted on women. In New York State alone, breast cancer is estimated to have taken the lives of 14,950 women in 2013.
Early detection is a key factor in reducing the disease’s deadly effects. There is a 98 percent survival rate when breast cancer is caught early, at a localized stage. It is imperative that women perform self-exams monthly and get annual mammograms, as well as clinical exams from their doctor. Adopting healthy habits, such as a well-rounded diet, regular exercise and limiting alcohol and tobacco use, can also decrease the risk.
In 1988, I authored the first in the nation law requiring insurance providers to pay for mammography screening for women 49 and over. I succeeded in passing a law the following year to make mammography available to younger women with a family history of breast cancer by requiring insurance providers cover these costs as well.
Research has led to improvements in treatment and prevention, but that does not mean the battle is close to over. When one in eight women in the United States will develop breast cancer at some point in their lives, we can’t sit back and hope for the best – we must be proactive.
I am proud to offer constituents access to free mammography screenings at my community offices. If you are interested in being notified about free mammography screenings next year, please contact 718-434-0446.
For information on cancer service programs in our area, visit the New York State Department of Health’s website www.health.state.ny.us/nysdoh/cancer/center/partnerships or call its cancer service hotline at 866-442-2262.
As always, please contact my office at 718-434-0446 or via email at Jacobsr@assembly.state.ny.us if you have any questions or concerns concerning this or any other community issue.