October is breast cancer awareness month and the VA wants to make sure all female veterans talk with their healthcare provider about breast cancer screenings and schedule regular mammograms. Breast cancer affects so many of our family members and the VA, among many other fine organizations, are doing what they can to spread awareness and fight the good fight. This article goes into some detail about the importance of breast cancer awareness and how the VA can provide some of the most effective screenings. “The Department of Veterans Affairs has an outstanding breast screening program,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. “I urge all women Veterans to talk to their providers during Breast Cancer Awareness Month about receiving the appropriate screening.”
Both men and women can develop breast cancer, though male breast cancer is rare. (Interestingly, we lost my father-in-law to breast cancer.) In women, breast cancer is the second most common cause of cancer death and the odds that a woman will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime are one in eight. The good news is that the overall five-year survival rate from breast cancer is nearly 90 percent. If the cancer is caught while it is still located only in the breast, the survival rate increases to nearly 99 percent. Veterans can talk with their VA health care providers. The VA directory helps Veterans find their nearest facility. Non-Veterans can find local screening resources through the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s early detection program ”
Mammograms can detect breast cancer early, and early detection makes a big difference in a woman’s chance of surviving,” said Dr. Stacy Garrett-Ray, VA’s deputy director of comprehensive women’s health. “If you’re over 40 years old, talk with your provider about the best screening methods for you.” In line with national guidelines, VA encourages all women between ages 50 and 75 to get mammograms every two years. Women ages 40 to 50 and those older than 75 should talk with their providers about the risks and benefits of having mammograms and make a decision based on their individual risk factors. Please make sure to spread awareness and help fight the good fight against breast cancer.
The VA catches a lot of flack and is often referred to as a “dysfunctional agency” in the way it handles many of its programs, including the VA Aid & Attendance Non Service Connected Disability Pension. But it also does a lot of things right, such as this awareness push. Let’s hope one day we can put an end to breast cancer.