Q&A on Breast Cancer with U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley

Q:        Why is October proclaimed National Breast Cancer Awareness Month?

A:        Consider this annual campaign as a catalyst that can help save lives.  Let's put it this way: Breast cancer has the potential to affect every American across the United States.  By calling attention to this insidious disease, National Breast Cancer Awareness Month helps to educate the public about symptoms, risk factors, screenings and prevention.  It also serves as a reminder to diagnosed patients, survivors and victims' loved ones that America stands strong in the march to find a cure.  By year's end, breast cancer will turn the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans upside down.  The National Cancer Institute projects 232,340 women and 2,240 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2013.  And 39,620 families will lose their grandmother, mother, wife, sister, daughter, aunt, niece or granddaughter to this disease before the New Year. The State Health Registry of Iowa estimates 2,300 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2013; 410 Iowa women will lose their life to the disease.  Designating the month of October as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month helps mobilize communities across the country to show solidarity.

Q:        How do you observe this campaign?

A:       For starters, I give thanks and praise that I'm able to wish my wife Barbara another happy, cancer-free birthday.  Barbara is a 26-year breast cancer survivor whose birthday coincides with National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  Like many survivors, Barbara attributes early detection and treatment with her recovery and survival.  Barbara also uses her birthday as a personal reminder to schedule her annual mammography screening.  We are grateful to participate in community awareness events, such as Race for the Cure, to stand together with families who have confronted this disease and the risk of losing everything from it.  Barbara and I want to show support for Iowa families struggling with a diagnosis, enduring treatment, considering preventive medical choices stemming from inherited genetic mutations to reduce risk of the disease, or mourning the loss of a loved one.  Since Barbara's diagnosis in 1987, America has made promising medical advances in the effort to diagnose, treat, prevent and find a cure to this second-leading cancer killer of women.

Q:        How can Iowans get involved to make a difference?

A: First, I would kindly challenge Iowans to hold their loved ones accountable.  Ask them if they conduct monthly self-exams.  Check whether they are up-to-date on an annual clinical breast exam from a medical provider.  Make sure they have had their mammography screening, which is considered the gold standard for early detection.  If not, don't drop the issue until one is scheduled.  The five-year survival rate if diagnosed and treated before the cancer spreads beyond the breast approaches 99 percent. Look for events, races and fund-raisers in local communities and neighborhoods.  Patronize local businesses that donate proceeds to breast cancer prevention and research.  National Breast Cancer Awareness Month helps keep America a step ahead of this pervasive disease by firing up the public's attention, fueling fund-raising and focusing on the life-saving screenings, treatments and research that save lives.  When it comes to public health and wellness, complacency could be considered public enemy no. 1.  Men and women need to know the warning signs to fight this disease.  The population considered at higher risk for breast cancer includes older women, those who have a family history of the disease, and obesity, particularly post-menopausal. It is said an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Choosing healthy lifestyles and following early, consistent screening recommendations will increase the odds Iowans will celebrate the gift of life with loved ones for many years to come.

For more information, visit the National Breast Cancer Awareness Month website at http://www.nbcam.org.  This year-round online resource offers a virtual repository of information to learn more about breast cancer, breast health, the latest developments in research, awareness events and patient resources.

Friday, October 4, 2013

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