U.S. House of Representatives

National Breast Cancer Awareness Month is upon us, and this gives us the time to remember all those who have gone through the intrusive experience of breast cancer. It is paramount that we continue to spread awareness all year to ensure that females and males across the country know the actions to take to prevent breast cancer. At the moment, besides skin cancer, breast cancer is the most diagnosed cancer for women and is the leading cause of cancer death for women. Through the dedication of all our efforts, we can ensure more women are survivors.

This year, more than 250,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed among U.S. women, according to findings of the Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program. And this year in Texas, there are to be more than 17,000 total expected new breast cancer cases, including 139 cases among males and 17,132 cases among females according to the Texas Cancer Registry.

It is vital that women both go to their doctors annually and do daily checks on their own to ensure that there are no unusual lumps, swelling, rashes or changes in shape to their breasts. Frequent checkups allow women to know their body better and provide the ability to discuss changes more accurately with their doctors. Additionally, mammograms are extremely important for women to have once their doctor recommends it, as they reduce the number of deaths from breast cancer for women between the ages of 40 to 74.

Mammograms spot cancers and tumors that need to be treated, and there are many options for women to find available screenings. Women can ask their doctors for screening, and there are also some local health programs that offer mammogram screenings at little to no cost. The National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program provides screening services, which includes clinical breast exams and mammograms to low-income, uninsured women in the United States.

We must continue to support all females both in their awareness and in their treatment. Currently, it is estimated that 12.4 percent of women who are born in the United States will develop breast cancer sometime in their lives, leaving about 1 in 8 women with the lifetime risk of breast cancer. These numbers are too high. We must continue to take precautions in our country that help women become more aware of their risks for breast cancer and help them be proactive in their health. For instance, African American women should consider receiving a breast cancer screening prior to the age 40 in order to reduce further complications or risk of fatality.

Additionally, we must speak about the dangers that breast cancer holds for men in our country. A family history of breast cancer, along with other factors, can cause an increased risk for breast cancer in men. Usually men with breast cancer have lumps that can be felt. Survival for men is similar to survival for women with breast cancer who are at the same stages, however, breast cancer in men is often diagnosed at later stages, decreasing the likelihood for curing the cancer. While the chances of breast cancer in men are rare, it is still important for men to be cautious of their risk and take precautionary measures against breast cancer.

This October, I urge you all to push awareness of breast cancer to everyone. This is a health concern that every American needs to take seriously to ensure the health of all men and women. As we continue to teach and inform others about the risks and precautionary measures one can take, this allows us to have a community in Dallas with healthy, active and informed people.

U.S. Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson is the ranking member of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology and the highest-ranking Texan on the House Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure. She represents the 30th Congressional District of Texas.

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