October 18 is National Mammography Day: Free or Reduced Cost Mammograms Available (dateline September 30, 2002)
October 18, 2002 has been designated National Mammography Day in the United States. On the third Friday this October, many mammography facilities will be offering free or reduced-cost screening mammograms as part of breast cancer awareness month. To help detect breast cancer early when the chances for a complete cure are the greatest, all women should receive mammograms every one to two years beginning at age 40 and every year beginning at age 50.
In 1993, President Clinton proclaimed National Mammography Day to be the third Friday of October (Breast Cancer Awareness Month). In addition to this designated day, many mammography facilities offer discounts on screening mammograms throughout the month of October.
Mammography is a special type of x-ray exam used to create detailed images of the breast. To date, it is the only exam approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to help screen for breast cancer in women with no signs of the disease (such as a breast lump). Mammography detects approximately 85% of all breast cancers and can find a breast cancer tumor years before a lump can be felt by touch. In addition to mammography, monthly breast-self exams and clinical breast exams are also useful in detecting breast cancer.
Typically, more than 2,200 mammography facilities that are accredited by the American College of Radiology recognize National Mammography Day. To learn which mammography facilities are participating and/or offering discounted mammograms throughout October, women are encouraged to contact one of the following organizations:
National Mammography Day was created to help educate women about the importance of early breast cancer detection. The American Cancer Society, the American College of Radiology, the American College of Surgeons and the American Medical Association all recommend that women receive regular mammograms beginning at age 40.
If a breast abnormality is detected with screening mammography, additional breast imaging tests may be performed to confirm or further evaluate the abnormality. A breast biopsy may also be performed to remove and analyze a portion of the breast tissue to determine whether it contains cancer cells. When breast cancer is caught and treated while it is still confined to the breast ductsa type called ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS)the cure rate is close to 100%. The chances for successful treatment significantly decrease when breast cancer is not detected until advanced stages.