Breast cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer death among women in the United States. Recently, Harvard researchers found that most of these deaths occur in younger women who do not get regular mammograms.
A 2009 recommendation stated that women older than 50 should get tested for breast cancer. However, the American Cancer Society now recommends an earlier age for screening, a yearly mammogram starting at the age of 40.
80 year old Patsy Stodgehill is a Texoma resident is a huge advocate of early screening. She loves to enjoy life and spend time with her family, but behind her bright smile and charm it's hard to believe that Patsy is a two time breast cancer survivor. She found out she had breast cancer during a mammogram she got 15 years ago.
"During my third mammogram, they found a spot. So I had to have a breast removed… that's when I became aware that this is something women ought to do" she said.
After winning her first fight with cancer, Patsy was diagnosed for a second time just 5 years later. She went through extensive treatment and is now cancer free. But because of her experience she stresses the importance of getting a yearly mammogram.
"It's not something to fear. It's a very simple process and it is so important for you to do that. Especially for younger women who might be looking forward to having a family, go now and get it done. If you find out early enough you can get it taken care of before you have to have surgery" she said.
Just by completing self examinations and getting screened every year, Patsy says it will significantly improve your chances of living a long and healthy life.
"I'm 80 years old and so I think I must have done something right I hope!" she said.
Patsy will continue to get a routine mammogram screening every year.
A 2011 study shows that women between 40 and 74 who get checked for breast cancer had a 30% lower death rate than those who didn't.
National Cancer Institute estimates that there will be over 234,580 people diagnosed with breast cancer in the U.S. during 2013. They also estimate that a little over 40,000 people will die from the disease this year.