October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This important initiative, and organization by the same name ( NBCAM), was started over two decades ago to raise awareness about breast cancer in all women and their families. Over the years, the organization has evolved and made all issues related to breast cancer of year-round importance.

NBCAM is comprised of professional medical associations – such as the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the American College of Radiology, and the American College of Clinical Oncology; government agencies – such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; and national public service organizations, such as the American Cancer Society, working together to increase the awareness of breast cancer, provide access to screening services, and share information about all aspects of breast cancer.

Focusing on encouraging women to increase their knowledge and to take control of their own health, NBCAM wants women to make sure to schedule an annual mammogram, practice regular self-breast exams, and take the prescribed treatment, including that for prevention and treatment, of breast cancer. The fact that this organization and the increased awareness of breast cancer has had a positive effect is shown by recent studies in which not only death rates from breast cancer have decreased, but also the number of new cases diagnosed with breast cancer has decreased in recent years.
Most experts believe that these significant decreases are due not only to improved treatments, but also to the increased awareness by patients of their risks for this cancer; this has lead to more women getting screened regularly, and in cases where breast cancer may be present, having it detected at an early stage when there is the highest chance for a cure.

Because my April 2008 medical column in this newsletter covered the medical issues relating to breast cancer in depth, I will refer you to that column to refresh your memory on the facts.

April 2008 Column
Dr. Miller and I strongly believe that an increased knowledge about your own health and your risk factors for specific diseases, as well as an understanding of the way the body works is the key to maintaining good health and an active lifestyle. Not only do we believe this about breast cancer, but about all of the diseases common in aging. This is the focus of our new book, The Smart Woman\’s Guide to Midlife and Beyond: A No-Nonsense Approach to Staying Healthy Over 50.

Please visit NBCAM\’s website, a wonderful resource about your breast health throughout the entire year, and not just in October. Please also visit the website about our book to learn more about it.