(New Haven, Conn.) - October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and Planned Parenthood of Southern New England (PPSNE) is urging women in Connecticut and Rhode Island to learn how they can become more aware of changes in their breasts, when to get checkups and screenings and how to communicate with their health care provider about breast health. This year, Breast Cancer Awareness Month coincides with the October 1 kickoff for enrollment in new health insurance plans under Obamacare, which will help millions more women get preventive care that can help detect breast cancer early.
Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading women’s health care provider and advocate and promotes breast health and breast self-awareness among women of all ages. PPSNE provides women with education about their risk factors, clinical breast exams that can detect abnormalities and referrals for diagnostic services including mammography. In 2012, PPSNE provided breast cancer screenings to more than 19,000 patients in Connecticut and Rhode Island helping women stay in charge of their breast health.
“Breast exams are an important step in detecting potential breast health issues early. Regardless of age, it’s never too early for women to take charge of their own health. As the leading women’s health care provider in Connecticut and Rhode Island, we are proud to offer health care services to help women make the best decisions for their breast health,” said Judy Tabar President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Southern New England. “Thanks to Obamacare, millions more women will see an expansion of preventive services covered in their insurance plans — including breast exams.”
The following are Planned Parenthood of Southern New England’s tips to help women detect breast cancer or abnormalities — part of the organization’s "Your breasts. Your health. Your move." campaign during Breast Cancer Awareness Month:
Find out if you’re at risk for breast cancer:
- Talk to your family. You may be at risk if your mother, sister or grandmother had breast or ovarian cancer.
- Tell your health care provider if anyone in your family has had breast or ovarian cancer.
Make healthy choices that can reduce your risk of breast cancer:
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Make exercise a part of your life.
- Breastfeed if you can.
- Limit alcohol and don't smoke
Become "breast aware" and see a health care provider if you see changes:
- It's normal to see a changes in your breasts, for lots of reasons.
- If you have lumps, redness, swelling, puckering, breast pain or discharge from your nipple, talk to your health care provider. It might be less serious than you imagine, but you should check it out.
Get regular screenings as appropriate for your age:
- If you're under 40, get a clinical breast exam every one to three years (your health care provider can help you determine how often, based on your circumstances). During a clinical breast exam, your health care provider will look at and feel your breasts, your armpit and around your collarbone to detect any abnormalities that need follow-up care.
- If you are 40 or over, get a clinical breast exam every year, plus an x-ray of the breast or mammogram every year.
Get ready to get covered under Obamacare:
- The health care law provides new benefits for all Americans and will help millions of people who are uninsured get more affordable health insurance.
- Learn more about the new law, and help your friends and family learn more, too.
- Find out what to consider in choosing a plan, how to get help paying for it, and how to enroll at ppsne.org/Obamacare or for Spanish language, ppsne.org/asegurate.
For a video on breast self-awareness, click here; for a Spanish version of the video, click here.
Early detection and proper screening are the most helpful ways for women to stay on top of their health. Studies show that African-American women and Latinas are often diagnosed with breast cancer at later stages, and are more likely to die from breast cancer than white women.
Nationwide, Planned Parenthood health centers performed nearly 640,000 breast cancer screenings last year. One in five women has turned to Planned Parenthood at some time in her life for health care, and Planned Parenthood is a critical resource for women in the fight to detect breast cancer early.
Planned Parenthood of Southern New England (PPSNE) is one of the region’s largest providers of family planning and reproductive health care services. Since 1923, PPSNE has evolved into an organization with 18 health centers in Connecticut and Rhode Island, delivering care to more than 70,000 patients annually, and 90 percent of the services provided are preventive.