Women who are educated about breast cancer screening, treatment, a Early Breast Cancer Education May Reduce Deaths (dateline February 22, 2009) | Breast Health News | Imaginis - The Women's Health & Wellness Resource Network

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Early Breast Cancer Education May Reduce Deaths (dateline February 22, 2009)

Women who are educated about breast cancer screening, treatment, and myths may help reduce their risk of dying from the disease, according to recent research presented at a medical conference. The research focused on Project Early Awareness, a program established by Howard University, in which a young survivor goes high school classrooms to address girls about breast cancer myths, provides accurate and timely breast cancer information, and instructs on how to perform breast self exams. According to the research, being educated about breast cancer early in life could lead to an earlier diagnosis later on, which has been linked to greater chances of successful treatment and survival.

The goal of Project Early Awareness is to educate girls in the 10th through 12th grades to take responsibility for their bodies by teaching them the skills needed to detect breast cancer early, according to the Howard University web site. Presentations on breast self-examination are made in school classrooms. Project Early Awareness aims to focus on long-term solutions to help reduce health disparities, by ensuring women are aware of the screening tools available to them as they age.

American Association for Cancer Research reported that the program started with three schools but has now reached 17, educating more than 2,800 girls and their families about breast cancer. Each student is given a pre-test and post-test to evaluate the effectiveness of the program. Howard University has seen students increase their comfort and ability to perform a breast self exam by 39 percent and their ability to answer breast cancer questions correctly increase by 69 percent.

Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in women today (after lung cancer) and is the most common cancer among women, excluding nonmelanoma skin cancers. According to the American Cancer Society, about 1.3 million women will be diagnosed with breast cancer annually worldwide about 465,000 will die from the disease.

All women are at risk of developing breast cancer. The older a woman is, the greater her chances of developing breast cancer. The National Cancer Institute reports that African-American have the highest death rate from breast cancer and are more likely to be diagnosed with a later stage of breast cancer than white women.

Additional Resources and References

  • The research reported in this article was presented at the Seventh Annual American Association for Cancer Research's International Conference on Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research in November 2008 in Washington, D.C. See the AACR website for more information, http://www.aacr.org/
  • Howard University Cancer Center provides information about Project Early Awareness, including contact information for inquiries, at http://cancer.howard.edu/patients/screening.htm