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Growing Number of Breast Cancer Survivors in ND

More than 200,000 breast cancer deaths have been averted over the past 25 years. Credit: Wavebreakmedia
More than 200,000 breast cancer deaths have been averted over the past 25 years. Credit: Wavebreakmedia
October 5, 2015

BISMARCK, N.D. – October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month in North Dakota and nationwide, and it comes as the death rate from the disease continues to decline.

Since 1990, the breast cancer death rate has dropped by more than a third in the U.S.

Barbara Steiner, a nurse consultant with the Division of Cancer Prevention and Control for the North Dakota Department of Health, says the growing number of survivors is the result of increased awareness and earlier detection as well as improved treatment.

"It's the radiation treatments that are available, the chemotherapy,” she explains. “Also, if women are diagnosed with a pre-cancer, there are medications that help to prevent a woman from developing breast cancer.”

In North Dakota, there are now around 5,000 breast cancer survivors.

Still, an estimated 80 women in the state will die from breast cancer this year along with 500 newly diagnosed cases.

So Steiner says it's vital for women to talk to their health care providers about the need for mammograms.

"And it depends on her personal risk factors, if there's any family history of breast cancer,” Steiner points out. “So there are different factors to consider in order to determine when is the best time to start having a mammogram."

Steiner notes that for women without insurance or the financial ability to pay, those who are eligible can receive mammograms and other screenings free of charge through the North Dakota Women's Way program.


John Michaelson, Public News Service - ND