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Breast Self Exams Matter

This month, we at The Weekly want to recognize National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. There are many different ways to do this. If you’ve been out of the house lately, you know that there are lots of pretty pink things you can buy, with the added bonus of at least some of the money you spend going to breast cancer research. You can wear a pink ribbon, participate in a fundraiser or give money to one of the plethora of charities that have sprung up to help combat this devastating disease.

But there’s something else you can do this month that will help lower the number of lives taken by breast cancer – give yourself a breast self exam (BSE).

Over 250,000 cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed in America this year, and over 40,000 women will die from the disease. Due to constantly advancing treatments, however, women whose breast cancer is caught in the earliest stage have five-year survival rates that are approaching 100 percent. Early detection is imperative in fighting this disease.

BSEs are an important part of early detection. A large percentage of breast cancer cases are found by either women or their partners. Every woman should give herself a BSE every month, as well as get a breast exam from a health professional every three years for women under 40, or every year for women over 40.

If you’re over 40 make sure to also get a yearly mammogram. Women in high-risk groups, including those with a family history of breast cancer, should talk to their doctor about whether they should start getting mammograms sooner than 40. Low and no-cost mammograms are available to women without insurance, call the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at (888) 842-6355 to get information about qualifying for one.

Don’t know how to give yourself a self-exam? Check out our back page this week for a handy guide. We designed it so that our readers can cut it out and put it up. If you’re one of our readers who doesn’t have breasts, cut it out and send it to someone you love who does.

In addition to publishing this guide, The Weekly will be contributing to the fight against breast cancer by donating 10 percent of all ad revenues from the month of October to two local charities _” the Charlotte Maxwell Complementary Clinic and The Women’s Cancer Resource Center, both located here in Oakland. They are great organizations that are working hard to support Bay Area women with cancer.

While we encourage everyone to donate money to these charities or others, the fight against breast cancer is one that must start at home. So this month, next month and the months following that, honor all the women who are struggling with breast cancer and who’ve lost their lives to this disease by giving yourself a self-exam.