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FOR RELEASE: October 24, 2000
CONTACT: Dick Gunn
405/271-5601

Oklahoma First Lady Cathy Keating Issues Challenge for Breast Cancer Screening

Today, First Lady Cathy Keating, the Secretary of Health and Human Services and Acting Director of the Oklahoma State Department Health Jerry Regier, and private industry announced a joint effort to improve the early detection and treatment of breast cancer for persons living in Oklahoma County.

First Lady Cathy Keating said that Oklahoma City women have a 96 percent survival rate, if breast cancer is detected in its earliest stages. To gain the opportunity of survival, annual mammograms must become a habit of women 40 years of age and older.

Secretary Regier announced that effective immediately OSDH employees will be granted 1-hour time off work to get a mammogram. Regier challenged private industry and other agencies to follow this directive in an effort to reduce the mortality rate from breast cancer in Oklahoma. Saint Anthony Hospital CEO Valinda Rutledge accepted the challenge on behalf of Oklahoma County health care providers and called upon other corporations to do likewise in their service areas.

“Every three minutes, someone's sister, mother, daughter, wife, neighbor or co-worker is diagnosed with breast cancer in the US. Every year 44,000 women die. In Oklahoma, each year 2,100 women are diagnosed with breast cancer and some 500 women will die,” said Regier. As Oklahoma ages as a society, the number of women getting breast cancer will increase as being a woman and aging are the major risk factors for breast cancer.

Ten years ago, in Oklahoma, only 30 percent of all breast cancer were found at the earliest stage of diagnosis, where survival is 96 percent. Today, 60 percent of women are diagnosed with breast cancer at the local stage and before disease has metastasized. To decrease the number of women dying by 30 percent in Oklahoma, 90 percent of Oklahoma City women should have an annual mammogram.

“Today, only 75 percent of Oklahoma City women have an annual mammogram. Therefore, we must increase the number of women getting mammograms by 15 percent to see a reduced impact on deaths. In Oklahoma City there are 66,000 women age 40 years and older that have never had a mammogram. The need for more outreach to women on this important health issues is clearly shown by the statistics,” Regier said.

Women are encouraged to follow the national guidelines for early detection:

  • Perform monthly self-breast examinations from age 20 and above.
  • Have an annual clinical breast examination performed by a health care professional.
  • Have a mammogram at age 40 and yearly thereafter.

These national guidelines are issued by the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, the American Cancer Society, National Cancer Institute, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. .

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