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Early detection and knowing risk factors are key in fight against breast cancer

South Health District talks breast health
Posted at 6:23 PM, Oct 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-05 18:23:59-04

VALDOSTA, Ga. (WTXL) — Breast cancer is the second leading cause of death in women in the United States, according to the American Cancer Society.

In Georgia, it accounts for 30 percent of new cancer cases. The best solution to getting ahead of the problem is early detection.

"Breast cancer doesn't care whether or not COVID is here or not breast cancer still exists and it exists 12 months out of the year."

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, getting older, a family or personal history of breast cancer, breast density, reproductive history, and genetic mutations are all factors that can play into a breast cancer diagnosis.

Women's Health Coordinator, RN at South Health District, Missy Pollock, says even though women over 40 are at a higher risk, younger women should do regular self-checks.

Pollock said, "you need to be checking your own breasts at home no matter what age you are."

South Health District serves 1,200 women a year in screening mammograms.

During the pandemic, they had to stop several of their breast services to focus on vaccines and testing, only seeing around 300 over the last year.

But things are back and running again.

Kristen Patten is the Public Information Officer and says the Breast and Cervical Cancer program gives the community a chance to spot problems any month of the year.

Patten said, "you need to be focusing on taking care of yourself and remaining aware of your body every day of the year."

Eight in 10 cases per year are diagnosed at South Health District in women that normally don't have access to the healthcare they need.

Pollock said it's important to never be scared to get checked "do not be afraid you need to know the sooner you know the better."

In addition to free mammograms, pap smears, and a clinical breast exam, they also cover follow-ups. Once there's a diagnosis, they offer women's health Medicaid that can help pay for treatment.