October Is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month

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Ronald Rios

By Ronald G. Rios
Middlesex County Freeholder Deputy Director
Chairperson, Committee of Public Health and Education

For a quarter of a century, National Breast Cancer Awareness Month has provided quality education and empowerment to women and their families and helped bring national attention to this devastating illness.

To mark the National Breast Cancer Awareness Month’s 25th anniversary this October, the Middlesex County Cancer Coalition is offering a series of community outreach programs at community and fitness centers throughout the County. Dates and locations can be viewed by visiting the Middlesex County Public Health Department’s Community Events tab at http://co.middlesex.nj.us/publichealth/community-events.asp.

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It is important that we educate ourselves and our families about the importance of early detection of breast cancer. Not counting some kinds of skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer in women, regardless of race or ethnicity, in the United States. Men can also get breast cancer.

Warning signs include:

  • New lump in the breast or underarm (armpit)
  • Thickening or swelling of part of the breast
  • Irritation or dimpling of breast skin
  • Scaly, red, or swollen skin on the breast, nipple, or areola
  • Pulling in of the nipple or pain in the nipple area
  • Nipple discharge other than breast milk, including blood
  • Any change in the size or shape of the breast
  • Pain in any area of the breast

Keep in mind that some of these warning signs also occur with other conditions that are not cancer. If you have these or any symptoms that concern you, be sure to see your doctor right away.

One of the most effective ways to detect breast cancer early on is to have a mammogram. A mammogram is an X-ray, which is used to detect even the earliest stages of breast cancer in women. According to the National Cancer Institute, having a regular mammogram reduces the number of deaths from breast cancer for women ages 40 to 69, especially for those over age 50. It is recommended that women over age 40 and younger women with a family history of the disease receive regular mammogram screenings every 1 to 2 years.

Women age 40 or over or those with a family history of breast cancer may qualify for a free clinical breast exam and mammogram through the Middlesex County Public Health Department’s Cancer Education and Early Detection (CEED) program. People may qualify for services if they meet the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services’ family income guidelines.

Call the Middlesex County Public Health Department’s Cancer Education & Early Detection (CEED) Program at 732-745-3127 for more information. Program information in Spanish is available at 732-745-3107. You owe it to yourself and to your loved ones to make the call. Early detection saves lives.

For more information about breast cancer, visit the following Web sites:


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