The good news: Breast cancer deaths in the U.S. have declined in recent years. According to a new report from the American Cancer Society, deaths have declined about 2 percent per year since 1990.
The bad news is that for Oklahoma women, the nation’s economic downturn has had a negative affect on their breast health. In fact, said Jeananne Huffman, supervisor of the Mammography Center at Integris Southwest Medical Center, the decline in the number of women coming in for yearly mammograms has been striking.
"It’s a shame that it’s affecting so many people and their health,” she said. "We do see women that skip a year, skip two or three years and then they have a big fat breast cancer.”
This Breast Cancer Awareness month, breast cancer advocates all across the country are encouraging women to have their yearly mammograms, starting as early as age 35.
Actress and advocate Christina Applegate has talked openly about her battle with breast cancer since she was diagnosed in August 2008. Because she has a family history of breast cancer, Applegate said she had mammograms for years but credits an MRI for finding her cancer in a very early stage.
But Huffman pointed out that an MRI isn’t the most practical tool for diagnosing breast cancer in most women due to its high cost and the fact most insurance companies don’t cover it for diagnosing cancer.
"Mammography is the gold standard,” she said. "It is, for the general public, the best way to detect early breast cancer.”
She said that aside from most women being unable to afford yearly MRIs, there are other reasons it is not more commonly used to diagnose breast cancer.
know it: Cancer