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National Breast Cancer Awareness Month: NYC Health + Hospitals encourages early detection through mammograms

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As October marks National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, NYC Health + Hospitals is actively promoting the importance of early detection by urging New Yorkers to schedule mammograms.

While mammograms cannot prevent breast cancer, they serve as the most effective tool for early detection.

Early diagnosis of breast cancer is pivotal, as when detected before it spreads beyond the breast, the survival rate soars to an impressive 99 percent. It’s important to note that some individuals with breast cancer may not display any signs or symptoms, making early detection even more critical.

Women over the age of 40 are strongly advised to undergo regular screenings for breast cancer.

Appointments for mammograms and other breast cancer screenings can be scheduled by calling 844-NYC-4NYC (844-692-4692), using MyChart for established patients, or even through referrals during routine virtual visits with healthcare providers.

NYC Health + Hospitals Senior Vice-President and Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Machelle Allen, emphasizes the life-saving potential of routine breast cancer screenings.

He stated, “Every woman 40 years of age and older should speak with her doctor about her specific risks for developing breast cancer and how frequently she should be screened. Screenings are easy and generally only take 20 minutes. Don’t procrastinate; schedule an appointment today.”

Highlighting the significance of early detection for women of color, NYC Health + Hospitals Chief Women’s Health Officer, Dr. Wendy Wilcox, states, “Black women and women of color are usually diagnosed at a later stage of breast cancer—making early detection even more important. NYC Health + Hospitals will do everything it can to reduce the barriers associated with getting mammograms—cost or lack of insurance should not be an impediment.”

Breast cancer stands as the second most common form of cancer among women in the United States, following skin cancer. Although breast cancer in men is rare, it’s essential to be aware of its existence.

In the U.S., breast cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer-related deaths among women, second only to lung cancer.

The American Cancer Society estimates that there will be over 41,000 breast cancer-associated deaths in 2023, with a concerning trend of higher death rates among black women, often due to late diagnoses.

Several risk factors increase the likelihood of developing breast cancer, including lack of regular exercise, obesity, hormone replacement therapy during menopause, specific birth control pill usage, a family history of breast cancer, or carrying gene mutations such as BRCA1 or BRCA2. Early menstruation onset or late menopause can also contribute to the risk.

While breast cancer or abnormalities are not always visible or palpable, individuals should promptly consult their healthcare provider if they experience symptoms like a new lump in the breast or underarm, thickening or swelling in the breast, dimpling of breast skin, redness or flakiness in the nipple area or breast, a nipple that inverts or becomes sunken, or chest pain.

It’s worth noting that most health insurance plans provide coverage for mammograms and other breast cancer screenings. For those without insurance, healthcare providers can still facilitate screenings and mammograms to ensure that early detection remains accessible to all, emphasizing the critical importance of this aspect of healthcare.

As National Breast Cancer Awareness Month unfolds, NYC Health + Hospitals is dedicated to encouraging early detection, ensuring that lives are saved through proactive healthcare and awareness efforts.

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