SUSSEX COUNTY, NJ - Project Self-Sufficiency, in conjunction with the Komen for the Cure North Jersey Affiliate and the Sussex/Warren Regional Chronic Disease Coalition, have launched the Tie-a-Ribbon Campaign in Sussex County to promote early detection and prevention of breast cancer in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness month.
Breast cancer is the single most common life-threatening cancer diagnosed in New Jersey women. Although the death rate from breast cancer has decreased each year since 1990, Sussex County is the only county in the state of New Jersey where mortality rates from breast cancer have risen in the past few years.
During the month of October the annual Tie-A-Ribbon campaign will line the streets of northwestern New Jersey towns with pink ribbons and placards that contain statistics about breast cancer and underscore the importance of early detection in obtaining a cure. As in years past, all 24 Sussex County municipalities will be participating.
Breast Cancer Awareness Month will also be recognized with a Health Fair at Project Self-Sufficiency, complete with free mammograms for eligible women. Educators trained in discussing breast cancer and the importance of early detection will also visit area middle schools and high schools in Sussex and northern Warren County. Several local colleges will also host speakers, including Sussex County Community College, Centenary College, Warren County Community College and the County College of Morris. Health Educators are also planning visits to area nursing homes, social service organizations and local businesses. Project Self-Sufficiency’s Breast Health Awareness project has received funding from the Susan G. Komen for the Cure for more than 15 years, reaching over 70,000 residents in northwestern New Jersey.
“Breast cancer is often a curable disease if it is caught in the early stages, yet many women in our area do not seem to be taking the necessary steps to receive an early diagnosis,” pointed out Deborah Berry-Toon, Executive Director of Project Self-Sufficiency. “Getting a mammogram every year after the age of 40, doing a self-exam every month, and getting regular health screenings will help to save lives.”
Not surprisingly, women are far more likely to develop breast cancer than men. In fact, all women are at risk for developing breast cancer, and the risk increases with age. Most women who get breast cancer have no family history of the disease. Rates of breast cancer vary greatly around the world, with developed countries tending to have higher incidences of the disease than countries which are less developed. There is also a wide disparity of incidence across the United States; the rate of diagnosis in New Jersey is higher than the average rate in the United States, with the incidence and mortality of the later stages of breast cancer in Sussex County at a higher level than the New Jersey average.
Early detection is essential in the fight against breast cancer; the survival rate for women who detected breast cancer in its earliest stages has reached 98 percent. Consequently, yearly mammograms are recommended for all women after the age of forty. If there is a family history of breast cancer annual mammograms are recommended after that age of 35. Although knowledge of family history is important, studies show that only 5 to 10 percent of breast cancers are hereditary. Obesity after menopause may also contribute to breast cancer risk. Consequently, the American Cancer Society recommends eating a nutritionally balanced diet, as well as incorporating regular physical activity into one’s daily life.
A mammogram is 85 to 90 percent effective at detecting breast cancer. Mammograms may detect breast cancer up to two years before they can be felt through clinical or self-examinations. Therefore, obtaining a mammogram can lead to expanded treatment options if cancer is detected, including conserving the infected breast and a higher survival rate.
To find out more about the Breast Health Awareness program at Project Self-Sufficiency, or to schedule a visit from a Breast Health Educator for a school, business or organization, call Project Self-Sufficiency at 973-940-3500.