Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Where Does Idaho Rank?


By Aimee Burnett

Twin Falls, Idaho (KMVT-TV) More women in the U.S. die from breast cancer each year than any other disease besides lung cancer.

October is breast cancer awareness month and early detection is the key.

Cancer is the leading cause of death among Idaho women.

"The American Cancer Society recommends that women over the age of 40 start getting their annual mammograms done,” said Dr. Pahtama Padavamija, Oncologist, Mountain State Tumor Institute.

A clinical breast exam is recommended along with the mammogram.

Certain risk factors may require women to start getting annual screenings before 40, such as certain genetic predispositions.

"What we call the breast cancer gene mutation. They will need to get their mammograms earlier as well, often times as early as 25–years old," said Dr. Padavamija.

Doctors also encourage women to take preventative measures in–between annual exams.

"Women should be aware of how their breasts look and feel. And, if there are any changes, of course let their physician know," said Dr. Padavamija.

More than a third of Idaho women did not receive breast cancer screenings within the last two years making Idaho last among all 50 states and the District of Columbia in cancer screening mammogram rates. Doctors at MSTI are hoping to change that.

"Women need to go get their mammogram because 2/3 of women that qualify and should get mammograms are not doing it here in this state," said Dr. Padavamija.

The earlier a woman is diagnosed, the more likely she is to survive.

"Once it spreads to your bones, the liver, or the brain then it would be considered incurable," said Dr. Padavamija.

About 95 % of women diagnosed while the cancer is only in the breast tissue will survive five years or longer.

In 2009, there were over 1,100 new cases of breast cancer diagnosed in Idaho women and 185 deaths.

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