October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. According to the American Cancer Society, almost 300,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year. 40,000 women will die from it. How many of use can say we don't know someone affected by breast cancer? Yet, so many women avoid the simple tests that can help to diagnose it. All women over 40 need to have a mammogram every year. If you are uninsured or can't afford one, the Center for Disease Control has a list of places that you can obtain free and low cost mammograms.

In it's earliest stages, breast cancer doesn't usually cause symptoms. As the cancer progresses, it may cause some of the following symptoms:

  • pain
  • nipple discharge
  • redness
  • swelling
  • itching
  • a lump in the breast
If you have any of these symptoms, you should contact your physician right away. The sooner it is detected, the better chance there is of treating it. The good news is, due to early diagnosis and treatment, there are 3 million breast cancer survivors in the United States. Breast cancer doesn't have to be a death sentence.  I encourage every one to remind your friends, mothers, and sisters to do monthly breast exams and schedule a yearly mammogram.