Rep. Capuano Recognizes National Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October 10, 2002

"Mr. Speaker,"

"I rise today to recognize the month of October as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. As we acknowledge the progress that has been made toward finding a cure for this deadly disease, let us also place a special emphasis on the importance of continued research, mammography coverage and treatment options."

"All women are at risk for breast cancer. The causes of this disease are not fully understood and researchers are still unsure how to prevent it. This year alone, an estimated 203,000 American women will be diagnosed with breast cancer, and almost 40,000 will die as a result of their illness. The good news however, is there are steps every woman can take that will make developing breast cancer less likely. These include a healthy diet, exercising regularly, limiting alcohol intake and an annual mammogram. Regular screenings remain the most effective way to identify breast cancer in its earliest and most treatable stages. For women 40 and over, having mammograms every 1 to 2 years can significantly reduce the risk of dying from breast cancer."

"To prevent breast cancer, we must increase awareness of its risk factors and causes. Age and genetic factors have been shown to increase risk, and researchers are now exploring how diet and hormonal factors are linked to possible causes. This information will help women and their doctors make more informed health care choices. Although mammography use has risen, many women are still not making mammography screening part of their routine health care."

"Women age 65 and older are less likely to get mammograms than younger women,even though breast cancer risk increases dramatically with age. In addition, Hispanic women have fewer mammograms than Caucasian women and African American women. While mammography rates are increasing for women with health insurance, they have remained low for women without coverage, according to the Commonwealth Fund Surveys of Women's Health. Women below poverty level are less likely to have had a mammogram within the past two years. New efforts are needed to reach older women, racial and ethnic minorities, and women of low income."

"Chances of survival are greater if the disease is detected early. In fact, when breast cancer is confined to the breast, the 5-year survival rate is over 95%. Researchers and physicians have made tremendous progress in understanding this disease and working toward a cure, but much remains to be done. We must still focus on risk factors, prevention, early detection, diagnosing and staging, treatment, and support care. As we recognize National Breast Cancer Awareness Month let us remember all of those who have lost loved ones to this disease and let us also dedicate this month to all the victims, survivors, volunteers and professionals who combat breast cancer each day. "