Early detection is the most effective weapon in the fight against breast cancer.
That's why OSF HealthCare is setting a mammogram challenge for its locally serviced communities this month.
OSF HealthCare locations in Ottawa and Streator have completed more than 7,500 mammograms in the past year. Local health care officials are hoping to tally at least 500 more during Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
"We want to get that number up to 8,000 by the end of October," OSF officials said in a press release.
Doctors advise every woman who is 40 and older or is at high-risk for breast cancer should schedule a regular mammogram.
OSF St. Elizabeth Medical Center in Ottawa and OSF Center for Health in Streator will be spotlighted in pink light throughout the month "to shine a light on the community’s commitment to fighting breast cancer," according to the press release.
The Illinois Department of Public Health reports breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in Illinois, with 10,500 women diagnosed each year. For women who detect the disease early, the five-year survival rate is nearly 90 percent, according to the state health department.
Early warning signs of breast cancer include:
• New lump in or near the breast or under the arm.
• Thickening or swelling of part of the breast.
• Irritation or dimpling of breast skin.
• Redness or flaky skin in the nipple area or the breast.
• Pulling in of the nipple or pain in the nipple area.
• Nipple discharge other than breast milk that occurs without squeezing.
• Any change in the size or the shape of the breast.
• Pain in any area of the breast.
The state health department recommends immediate consultation with a doctor if any of the above symptoms are present. Starting at age 20, women should perform a self breast exam. From age 40 onward, an annual mammogram is recommended.
Every woman who gets a mammogram at OSF HealthCare this month will receive a free packable tote while supplies last.
For more information about scheduling a mammogram, call OSF St. Elizabeth at 815-431-5471 or OSF for Health at 815-673-4517. More information, including an online risk assessment, is available at osfhealthcare.org/mammo.