While the country is awash in pink, the Harford County Health Department reminds the public to take action during Breast Cancer Awareness Month in Harford County throughout October.

Registered nurse Elaine Krajewski, cancer prevention services director for the Harford County Health Department, encourages women to use this as an opportunity to get screened for breast cancer and for men and women to let a woman they love know how important it is for her to have her own breast cancer screening.

Screenings for breast cancer include two simple procedures, the clinical breast exam and a mammogram, which complement one another. A clinical breast exam is performed by a doctor and can identify breast abnormalities. A mammogram is a low-dose X-ray picture of the breast that can help find breast cancer at an early stage when it can best be treated. Beginning at age 40, it is recommended that woman have both procedures performed.

Breast cancer screenings can be quick and easy. Everyone in Harford County should take action this month by reminding their mothers, sisters, wives and daughters of the following screening recommendations:


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• Women older than 20 should have a clinical breast exam every 1-3 years

• Women older than 30 should have a clinical breast exam every year

• Women older than 40 should have yearly mammograms, unless a physician says otherwise

Early detection, treatment, research and support from family and friends make a huge difference. In 2011, there are more than 2.5 million breast cancer survivors in the U.S.

"If all women age 40 and older took advantage of breast cancer screening methods, mammography plus clinical breast exam, breast cancer death rates would drop much further, up to 30 percent," Krajewski said.

National Breast Cancer Awareness Month represents a partnership of national public service organizations, professional medical associations and government agencies working together to promote breast cancer awareness, share information on the disease and provide greater access to screening services. For more than a quarter century, National Breast Cancer Awareness Month has been at the forefront of promoting awareness of breast cancer issues and has evolved along with the national dialogue on breast cancer.

For those concerned about the cost of mammograms, the Harford County Health Department's Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening Program offers no-cost mammograms to qualifying women who are Maryland residents, ages 40-64, have little or no health insurance and who meet the program's financial income guidelines.

For more information about breast cancer awareness or Harford County Health Department Cancer Prevention Services, call the Office of Cancer Prevention Services at 410-612-1780 or visit the website at http://www.harfordcountyhealth.com.