Throughout the month of October doctors, hospitals and other organizations will join together to bring awareness to an illness that will affect one in eight women.
Since 1985, October has been designated as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month in an effort to raise awareness for the disease and advocate for early screening in women as preventative medicine. The city of Sherman started early in September officially designated all of October as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The city capped off the designation with a proclamation recognizing Reba’s Ranch House.
“Each year, too many Americans are touched by the pain and hardship caused by breast cancer,” Sherman city council member Sandra Melton read the proclamation. The proclamation went on to recognize the courage of those who “fought, are fighting or will fight” breast cancer at some point in their lives.
The National Breast Cancer Foundation estimates that the disease affects one in eight women in the U.S. at some point with more than 268,000 new cases expected in 2019. About 41,800 American women are expected to have died from the disease in 2019.
The disease is the second most common form of cancer for women in the U.S. following skin cancer. While information is still limited on the disease, gender, age and genetics are leading risk factors.
For men, who can also develop breast cancer, the rates are significantly lower, with one in about 1,000 men expected to develop the disease. Only about 500 men die annually from the disease.
Among the organizations that will be celebrating the month is Reba’s Ranch House and the Texoma Health Foundation, who had representatives in Sherman for the proclamation. The ranch house operates a Room For Hope, which features prosthetics, bras, hats and wigs for cancer patients. The group also offers assistance funds for treatment and surgery and support group services.
Reba’s Ranch House plans to hold events for the month, but a set schedule has yet to be finalized, Guest Relations Representative Susan Hooper said. Organizers are working on planning a “pink out” in downtown Sherman where business owners wear pink and decorate store for the month.
Guest Relations Representative Susan Hooper said breast cancer cases make up the majority of the cases that they see each year are breast cancer cases. Hooper estimated that they see at least 100 cases in a year.
Hooper said an emphasis is placed on early detection because the disease is highly treatable in its early stages. The National Breast Cancer Foundation estimates that about 62 percent of cases are diagnosed in the localized stage, with a five-year survival rate of 99 percent for patients treated at this stage.
“If it is found later in life, when it is larger or already spread, the prognosis is not as good,” Hooper said.
It is generally recommended at women start receiving annual mammograms around the age of 40 and no later than 45, said Misty Nortman, lead mammography tech with Wilson N. Jones Regional Medical Center. The process, which involves about 4 x-rays and light compression of the chest, takes about 15 minutes to complete with results returned back to the patient in about 7 days.
“Early detection is usually the best preventative medicine for this,” Nortman said.