With breast cancer, as with other cancers and many other diseases, early detection makes a positive outcome more likely. Breast cancer is the most common cancer in Arizona, with an estimated 6,110 cases expected to be diagnosed in 2022, according to the American Cancer Society.
It’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which promotes educating yourself and others on breast cancer and the importance of screening for it. With a theme of “Together We Rise,” this year’s observance has a goal of ensuring that every woman has access to the screenings she needs and the support she deserves.
For nearly 30 years, the Arizona Well Woman HealthCheck Program has been screening women for breast and cervical cancer. From its inception through the end of 2021, the program has been helping low-income, uninsured, and underinsured women live longer, healthier lives through access to early detection through screening and diagnostic services. Arizonans can access the Arizona Well Woman HealthCheck Program and services by visiting WellWomanHealthCheck.org.
In the past five years, more than 25,300 women have benefited from the Arizona Well Woman HealthCheck Program, with 22,839 women screened for breast cancer, 13,531 screened for cervical cancer, and 3,969 women received referrals to other services. If screening results are abnormal, diagnostic testing such as ultrasounds, biopsies, and other tests are available, and referrals are made for treatment as necessary.
In addition, the Arizona Well Woman HealthCheck Program helps enroll uninsured women in Arizona who have been diagnosed with breast or cervical cancer or precancerous cervical lesions into the Breast and Cervical Cancer Treatment Program administered by the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS).
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are a number of steps women can take to reduce their risk of breast cancer, such as:
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Be physically active.
- Choose not to drink alcohol, or drink alcohol in moderation.
- If you are taking, or have been told to take, hormone replacement therapy or oral contraceptives (birth control pills), ask your doctor about the risks and find out if it is right for you.
- Breastfeed your children if possible.
- If you have a family history of breast cancer or inherited changes in your BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, talk to your doctor about other ways to lower your risk.
The Arizona Well Woman HealthCheck Program encourages all women to know their risks and get screened for breast cancer. Staying healthy throughout your life will lower your risk of developing cancer and improve your chances of surviving cancer if it occurs.
Another way to support breast cancer awareness is the Pink Ribbon/Cancer Awareness special license plate available through the Arizona Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Division. Proceeds benefit the Arizona Well Woman Health Check Program’s efforts to provide breast and cervical cancer screenings and outreach services in Arizona.