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Vandenberg observes National Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Kelli Watkins, a breast cancer patient, tells the story of her journey with coping with breast cancer during the Breast Cancer Awareness Seminar on Oct. 24 held at Chapel One on Vandenberg. The Breast Cancer Awareness Seminar was created to help educate and inform the population about breast cancer. (Photo by Airman 1st Class Ashley Reed)

Kelli Watkins, a breast cancer patient, tells the story of her journey with coping with breast cancer during the Breast Cancer Awareness Seminar on Oct. 24 held at Chapel One on Vandenberg. The Breast Cancer Awareness Seminar was created to help educate and inform the population about breast cancer. (Photo by Airman 1st Class Ashley Reed)

Shaun Skerbitz, a mammography technician,  sheds a tear while listening to a breast cancer survivor's story of coping with breast cancer during the Breast Cancer Awareness Seminar on Oct. 24 held at Chapel One on Vandenberg. The Breast Cancer Awareness Seminar was created to help educate and inform the population about breast cancer. (Photo by Airman 1st Class Ashley Reed)

Shaun Skerbitz, a mammography technician, sheds a tear while listening to a breast cancer survivor's story of coping with breast cancer during the Breast Cancer Awareness Seminar on Oct. 24 held at Chapel One on Vandenberg. The Breast Cancer Awareness Seminar was created to help educate and inform the population about breast cancer. (Photo by Airman 1st Class Ashley Reed)

These are some items given away to promote Breast Cancer Awareness during the Breast Cancer Awareness Seminar on Oct. 24 held at Chapel One on Vandenberg AFB. The Breast Cancer Awareness Seminar was created to help educate and inform the population about breast cancer. (Photo by Airman 1st Class Ashley Reed)

These are some items given away to promote Breast Cancer Awareness during the Breast Cancer Awareness Seminar on Oct. 24 held at Chapel One on Vandenberg AFB. The Breast Cancer Awareness Seminar was created to help educate and inform the population about breast cancer. (Photo by Airman 1st Class Ashley Reed)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- The 30th Medical group observes October as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. 
During the month of October the Medical Group had several events scheduled to bring awareness to breast cancer. The kick-off this month long observation started with the 30th Space Wing fit to fight run on Oct.4, there was an educational booth at the commissary on Oct. 12 from 10:30 to 1 p.m., and a breast cancer awareness seminar on Oct.24 from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the chapel 1 annex, featuring one physician speaker, 30th Medical group's mammogram tech, clinical nurse, and patients sharing their experiences with breast cancer.
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Breast cancer is a disease in which abnormal cells in the breast tissue grow out of control. Symptoms may or may not be present and can include the following: lump in the breast or underarm, thickening or swelling in part of the breast, irritation or dimpling of the breast skin, redness or flaky skin in the nipple or breast area, pulling in of the nipple, nipple discharge other than breast milk. Other symptoms include a change in the size or shape of a breast and pain in the nipple or breast. Although these symptoms can occur with conditions that are not cancer, women with any of these signs should seek medical care as soon as possible.

According to the American Cancer Society, breast cancer ranks second to lung cancer as the most common cancer in women. Currently breast cancer accounts for approximately one of every three new cancers diagnosed. Men are at a lower risk of developing breast cancer but should still be aware of the risks factors and symptoms. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2003 there were 181, 646 women and 1,826 men who developed breast cancer.

Certain risk factors increase the likelihood of developing breast cancer. These include older age, never giving birth, being older than 30 years at the birth of your first child, never breastfeeding, and younger age at start of menstrual cycle or older of age at start of menopause. Other risk factors includes personal or family history of breast cancer, being overweight or not getting regular exercise, and drinking more than one alcoholic drink per day. Having any of these risk factors does not mean that breast cancer will develop. However, it is important to discuss any risk factors with your provider and discuss ways to lower risk.

Breast cancer screening is important since cancer can be identified before any signs or symptoms appear. Treatment for breast cancer works best when the disease is found in the early stage. There are three main tests used to screen for breast cancer: mammogram, clinical breast exam by a healthcare provider, and self breast exam. A mammogram is an X-ray of the breast and is recommended every year for women 40 years and older.

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, it is the best method to detect breast cancer early and has been found to lower the risk of dying from breast cancer. Women choosing to have clinical breast exams or to perform breast self-exams must be sure to get regular mammograms.

Women over the age of 40, who are TRICARE Prime or Plus patient, and have not had a mammogram within the last year, need to get a mammogram now!

The 30th Medical group currently provides mammography service. Schedule a mammogram by asking the provider to order it, by walking up to the radiology window or by calling the 30th Medical Group radiology department at 606-3938.