Women's Health Week: Breast Cancer Prevention

Our focus this week is "National Women's Health Week.

We're targeting different health issues facing women every day this week on Alabama Live.

Today we are focusing on breast cancer.

A new study is raising concerns about breast cancer prevention. The study finds the rates of women getting mammograms are dropping.

As a volunteer, Virginia Baza helps women recovering from breast cancer.

She knows what they're going through . 19 years ago a lump was discovered in her breast.

"I couldn't feel the lump and nor could my doctor. But there it was. It showed up on the film from the mammogram," Baza says.

The mammogram saved her life, but government researchers have found that since 2000 there has been a 4% drop in women who are getting screened.

Nancy Breen of the National Cancer Institute says, "that's not a good thing because it may mean women will be detected, but later, as a result of not having a mammogram."

The later it's found the more likely it could be fatal.

Virginia Baza suspects women aren't getting mammograms because they're scared. "They are afraid they're going to get the bad word," she says, "Women have to learn that catching it early is the key to survival."

Dr. Breen, who headed the study, thinks the public may be confused over reports showing breast cancer rates are down but says, "That doesn't mean the risk for an individual has dropped. It just means within the population it has dropped."

Dr. Breen found the sharpest declines in women over the age of 50 and those in high socio-economic groups.

Just last month, President Bush signed a law providing money for mammograms for women who can't afford them. Now it seems educators need to target women who can.

Check out the "Alabama Live" section of WSFA.com for an interview with Dena Childrey. She is a two time breast cancer survivor and has an interesting story to tell.