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Blaine's Bulletin: Breast Cancer Awareness Month

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Washington, October 20, 2017 | comments
Many of us have a mother, sister, aunt, daughter, friend, or another loved one who has been diagnosed, suffered, and fought breast cancer.
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Many of us have a mother, sister, aunt, daughter, friend, or another loved one who has been diagnosed, suffered, and fought breast cancer.

Breast cancer affects one in eight women in the United States, resulting in approximately 40,000 deaths in this country annually.  Typically, the cancer produces no symptoms during its initial stages when it is most easily and least invasively treatable. Therefore, one of the key aspects to fighting and surviving breast cancer is early detection.

Mammograms are currently the best way to detect breast cancer early before the tumor has grown large enough to be felt or to result in other symptoms. Fortunately, significant improvements have been made in adherence to routine mammograms after reaching 40 years of age. The percentage of women receiving a mammogram increased from 29 percent in 1987 to 70 percent in 2000. However, screening rates declined by 3 percent after 2000 and have remained stagnant for the past decade.

In the coming days, I will be introducing the Mobile Mammography Promotion Act. This legislation would increase access to breast cancer screening by providing relief to the federal fuel excise tax for “mammovans,” vehicles designed exclusively to provide mobile mammography services, which travel to underserved areas. This relief already exists within the tax code for blood collection and other entities. My bill would simply add vehicles primarily providing mammography services to the list.

Annual mammograms are vitally important, but the U.S. has been unable to make any recent improvement to the 67 percent screening rate. Therefore, we must begin to employ new tactics for targeting groups of unscreened women and increasing mammography access. With such a simple test, women should be empowered to get regular exams.

Too many of us have lost a loved one due to a form of cancer. Not only this month, but year round, let’s remind our friends, family members, and neighbors to get screened to protect their lives. It is important that we all take an active role so we can end breast cancer, once and for all.  

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