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Today is National Mammography Day

October 21, 2011

GREEN BAY, Wis. - The third Friday in October is National Mammography Day, an annual reminder for women to encourage them to schedule a mammography appointment. Breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed non-skin cancer in women, and it ranks second among causes of cancer deaths in women, after lung cancer.

This year, 4,000 Wisconsin women will be diagnosed with breast cancer and nearly 700 will die of the disease. Laurie Pagel of the American Cancer Society (ACS) in Wisconsin, says that's why mammograms are important.

"We know that more women having mammograms can mean more women celebrating more birthdays, because about 98 percent of patients whose cancer has not spread beyond the breast at the time of their diagnosis will survive now, at least five years."

She says ACS guidelines indicate all women starting at age 40 should begin getting yearly mammograms and then continue them for as long as they are in good health. Mammography can identify cancer at an early stage, usually before physical symptoms develop, although Pagel points out that self-examination is a key part of the equation.

"It's very important for women to be aware of their breasts and their bodies, and immediately report any changes they notice to their doctor - any changes in color, shape, size, lumps, whatever they notice."

She adds women can also stay well and lower their breast cancer risk by maintaining a healthy weight, being physically active and reducing alcohol consumption. The ACS website,, has helpful tips and a reminder feature for scheduling an annual mammogram.

Tim Morrissey, Public News Service - WI