Get informed, support the fight against breast cancer

SUPPORT: More than 100 supporters joined cancer survivors during the 8th Annual Breast Cancer Awareness Wave held at the intersection of Marine Corps Drive and Chalan San Antonio in Tamuning on Oct. 11. Dontana Keraskes/The Guam Daily Post

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and while teens aren't as likely to develop this form of cancer they can begin a healthy lifestyle that could help them in the future. 

According to the Guam Cancer Registry, the main cause of breast cancer on Guam is the influence of genes, lifestyles and environment on cancer development and progression. Some factors include the use of tobacco and obesity. Among the adults on Guam with cancer, 57% were tobacco-related while 30% were obesity-related.

“That is why maintaining a healthy diet, exercising to prevent obesity, reducing alcohol intake, stopping or reducing smoking and talking to your doctor about the best time to start screening are just some ways in reducing your risk for breast cancer or any other forms of cancer,” said Linda DeNorcey, Department of Public Health and Social Services director.

Guam's cancer incidence is high compared to the rest of the United States. According to the 2008-2012 Guam Cancer Facts and Figures report, cancer in the U.S. has been declining while new cancer cases and deaths on Guam continue to rise.

On average, one person is diagnosed with cancer on Guam each day. One person dies of cancer every 2.5 days.

Breast cancer is one of the top five cancers on Guam and many families have been touched by this disease.

There are various programs that aim to help families find out what support is available to them. And throughout the year, there are community activities that aim to teach island residents more about breast cancer, as well as raise funds to support research for a cure. 

The DPHSS Guam Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program offers free screenings and diagnostic services to women on Guam. Eligibility is given to women who are 21-64 years old and meet the program’s income guidelines. An exception may be made for teenage girls if they present with symptoms of cancer. Women who are enrolled in the program have access to mammograms, breast and cervical examinations, Pap tests and other services.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, symptoms for breast cancer can include a lump in the breast or underarm, change in size or shape of breast, irritation of breast skin and pain in any area of the breast. There are many factors that affect the likelihood of getting breast cancer. Since it was established, the local program has helped 3,853 women with breast and cervical cancer screening. 

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