FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 20, 2009
Contact: HHS Press Office
HHS Releases Update of "Understanding Breast Changes: A Health Guide for Women"
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced today that the HHS National Institute of Health (NIH) National Cancer Institute (NCI) has released its updated booklet in time for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Understanding Breast Changes: A Health Guide for Women. The guide addresses the concerns of women who notice a breast change or get an abnormal mammogram finding. It explains important next steps in testing, diagnosis, and treatment when breast changes are found.
“One in 8 women will have breast cancer at some point in their life, but fewer women are dying from it because of medical advances in detection and treatment,” said Secretary Sebelius. “Other than skin cancer, breast cancer is still the most common type of cancer among women in the United States. This guide underscores the importance of regular mammograms and seeing a doctor when changes occur.”
Use of screening mammograms, followed by timely treatment when breast cancer is diagnosed, can help reduce a woman’s chances of dying from breast cancer. For women between the ages of 50 and 69, there is strong evidence that screening lowers this risk by 30 percent. For women in their 40s, the risk can be reduced by about 17 percent.
However, not all women who would benefit from regular screening mammograms get them. In 2005, only 67 percent of women aged 40 and older had a mammogram within the past 2 years, and these rates represent a drop in screening since 2003.
One reason some women may not undergo mammography is fear or misunderstanding of the screening process, results, or follow-up steps. Many women remain unaware that breast health issues are very common and most breast changes found on mammograms are not cancer.
By including quotes from other women and questions to ask their health care provider, the booklet helps women better prepare themselves for discussions with their health care provider. These discussions are critical to learning more about breast health.
- Encourages women to follow-up with their health care provider about any breast changes
- Addresses possible mammogram results that women may receive
- Helps women learn about follow-up tests that are used to diagnose breast changes
- Enables women to learn about specific breast conditions and how they are treated
- Reassures women that most breast changes—even those described as ‘abnormal’—are not cancer
The booklet also includes worksheets for women to use to collect their personal and family medical history, information about breast changes or problems they have experienced, and questions for their health care provider about the next steps following the discovery of a breast change. In addition, it features a section on finding emotional support and a list of resources for women who want to learn more.
The booklet, Understanding Breast Changes: A Health Guide for Women, is available, free of charge by calling 1-800-4-CANCER or online at www.cancer.gov by clicking on “NCI Publications” in the Quick Links box.
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Last revised: May 7, 2011