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Breast Cancer Awareness for Indiana Women: Still a Long Way to Go

October 25, 2011

INDIANAPOLIS - Every October, pink ribbons dot the Indiana landscape in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Most women are aware of recommendations to get mammograms to detect any abnormalities early, although many do not follow that advice.

Martha Trout, director of health initiatives for the Great Lakes Division of the American Cancer Society (ACS), says that, while breast cancer is highly treatable when found in its early stages, it ranks second for cancer deaths in women, behind lung cancer.

"Some women just don't want to have stuff done. Maybe they're frightened of what might be found, or have heard stories about mammograms, and just don't want that test performed."

The American Cancer Society guidelines call for annual mammograms for women starting at age 40. However, those in certain high risk groups should consult their doctors about beginning earlier.

Trout says doctors need to evaluate a woman's genetic background and family history, although the two biggest breast cancer risk factors are simply being female, and getting older.

"When you're in your 70s and 80s, that's when the risk goes up to one in eight. When we're younger, it certainly is lower."

Trout says women can lower their breast cancer risk by eating well, exercising, and maintaining a healthy weight. Along with mammography, the ACS also encourages all women to perform regular self-exams.

Trout says an Indiana Mammography Facility Guide is available free online at, or at an American Cancer Society office.

Leigh DeNoon, Public News Service - IN