Raising awareness of breast cancer

Sarah Smith
October 30, 2007
November Dance
November 1, 2007

Breast cancer impacts tens of thousands of women throughout the United States each year, and the chance of a woman contracting this disease in her lifetime is one in eight.

My wife Wendy tragically lost her mother to this disease at the age of 6, and her loss serves as a constant reminder to me to continue working to raise awareness about breast cancer screenings and treatment.

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness month, and once again we are reminded of the importance of cancer screening and prevention. Each year countless American families feel the saddening impact of this disease. The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2007 more than 200,000 cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed, and of that number, 40,000 women will ultimately lose their lives.

The definitive cause of breast cancer is not yet known, but many risk factors have been identified. While some of these risk factors, such as age and family history, are beyond individual control, the elimination of others can help to reduce the risk of breast cancer. These include tobacco use, physical inactivity and alcohol consumption.

Early detection is still the most effective means of reducing the risk of death from breast cancer. Early detection significantly increases the chances of survival, and the earlier this disease is identified, the better.

Thousands of lives are saved each year by detecting breast cancer before any of its symptoms become apparent, and mammograms, clinical breast exams and self-examination can all help identify breast cancer at an early stage.

This year I was proud to sign the Congressional Cancer Promise when tens of thousands of Americans affected by cancer traveled to Washington to highlight their struggles with this disease. As a member of the bi-partisan U.S. Senate Cancer Coalition, I am actively working to raise awareness about screenings and treatment for breast cancer.

It is imperative that we continue to elevate cancer prevention and early detection, increase cancer research and expand access to care for this disease that affects so many of our family, friends and neighbors.

I am interested in hearing your thoughts on improving breast cancer awareness and other issues. Please contact me with your ideas at any of my state offices or in my Washington office by mail at U.S. Sen. David Vitter, U.S. Senate, 516 Hart Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C., 20510, or by phone at (202) 224-4623. You can also reach me on the Web at http://vitter.senate.gov.