By Assemblyman Will Barclay
According to the State Health Department, breast cancer is one of the most common cancers among women in New York State. Each year in New York, more than 14,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer and almost 2,700 women die from the disease. It is estimated that one in eight women will develop breast cancer during her life.
There has been a lot of awareness centered on educating women who are busy taking care of families, managing careers and households, to take time out for regular check ups for early detection. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Pink ribbons indicate awareness and local fundraisers and walks have been held–all in honor of loved ones who succumbed to breast cancer and help prevent deaths to cancer.
These are all positive steps toward raising awareness and decreasing cancer deaths. Early detection saves lives. The cause of breast cancer is still not well understood. Scientists agree there are factors that increase a person’s risk of developing breast cancer, such as personal history, age, family history, hormonal factors, not breastfeeding, and personal behavior among others.
Another risk may be environmental and scientists are still studying environmental risks. This year the State Legislature passed a bill that will enable state funding to support breast cancer mapping. I voted for this in the Assembly. State funds can now be used to investigate geographic variations in breast cancer incidents. The state currently has a Breast Cancer Research and Education Fund, which is used to conduct research, seek causes of breast cancer, and screen and treat breast cancer.
The latest law, A1935A, signed by the governor, will enable those funds also to be utilized for breast cancer mapping as well.
Dense Breast Tissue
Last year, I was pleased to support a bill in the Assembly that is helping to improve breast cancer detection and prevent late-stage diagnoses. This was signed into law last summer. It concerns “dense breast tissue.” Those performing mammograms are required to inform patients if they have dense breast tissue, to explain what this means, and to encourage the patient to check with their doctor for additional screenings.
Studies show that cancer is more likely to occur in women who have dense breast tissue. Mammograms often miss early signs when dense breast tissue is a factor. According to one study, 71% of all breast cancer occurs in women with dense breast tissue.
With this law, if a patient has dense breast tissue, the physician can require additional testing with sonograms and other diagnosing methods. Technology and research has advanced to develop better tools to detect cancer. Our laws should reflect these advancements.
I was happy to support this legislation in the Assembly. A similar law passed in Connecticut in 2009 and reports there indicate that, with a follow-up ultrasound, nearly double the amount of cancers were found after further screening.
Free cancer screenings are still available. In Oswego County, residents without health insurance may call 315-592-0830.
In Onondaga County, residents may call 315-435-3653. In Jefferson County, residents may call 877-449-6626.
Those who have been recently diagnosed and need emotional support may call the Adelphi NY Statewide Breast Cancer Hotline at 1-800-877-8077.
Treatment options and information about referrals is also available.
If you have any questions or comments on this or any other state issue, or if you would like to be added to my mailing list or receive my newsletter, please contact my office.
My office can be reached by mail at 200 N. Second St., Fulton, NY 13069, by e-mail at [email protected] or by calling (315) 598-5185.
You can also friend me, Assemblyman Barclay, on Facebook.