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Luncheons focus attention on breast cancer




Carmen K. Sisson



Registration filled quickly for Tuesday's second annual breast cancer awareness luncheon at Baptist Memorial Hospital-Golden Triangle, but it's not too late to reserve a seat for next week's luncheon at Mississippi University for Women.  


The free event, co-sponsored by the hospital and MUW, will take place Oct. 24 at 11:45 a.m. in the Pope Banquet Room at Hogarth Dining Hall. A light lunch will be served.  


The program is geared toward women and men of all ages who are interested in learning more about breast cancer.  


Last year was the first time Baptist held the breast cancer awareness luncheon, and it was such a success, they decided to do it again this year, said Amanda Mordecai, nurse navigator for the oncology center.  


"Last year, we were kind of overflowing," Mordecai said. "We had maybe 25 ladies all of all ages and several breast cancer survivors in the group. We just basically want to get the word out for some teaching regarding breast cancer." 


Dr. Velmalia Matthews-Smith, who joined Baptist's oncology department in January, will speak about breast cancer basics and life after diagnosis and treatment.  


Before partnering with BMH-GT Oncologist Dr. Wail Alnas, Matthews-Smith practiced oncology and hematology at the Jackson Clinic in Jackson, Tenn. She received her medical degree from the University of South Alabama in Mobile, Ala., and accepted a fellowship at Venderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, where she was recognized as the Most Outstanding Clinician and received the Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award. 


The two luncheons are among numerous awareness events scheduled throughout the Golden Triangle for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which was established in 1985 by the American Cancer Society and pharmaceutical companies.  


The purpose of the events are to educate women on the basics of breast health -- from self-exams to mammograms, to raise awareness about breast cancer and, in some cases, to raise money for research.  


Though Mississippi ranks among the states with the lowest number of diagnosed cases of invasive breast cancer each year, it is among the states with the highest mortality rates.  


The University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson reports around 1,900 women and 20 men in the state will be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012.  


Nationwide, nearly 227,000 women will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer this year, and more than 39,000 will die from the disease. An additional 63,300 cases of non-invasive, ductal carcinoma in situ will be diagnosed in women this year, according to the American Cancer Society. 


And while white women are more likely to be diagnosed with the disease, black women are more likely to die from it, based upon statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Among women, it is second only to skin cancer in diagnoses and second only to lung cancer in female cancer deaths. 


Men can be diagnosed with breast cancer as well, but while women have a one in eight chance of developing it, men have a one in 1,000 chance. Still, ACS estimates more than 2,000 men will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer this year, and more than 400 will die.  


The good news is that early detection and improved cancer treatment is increasing survival rates, especially among women younger than 50. There are now more than 2.9 million breast cancer survivors in the United States.  


For more information about breast cancer, or to sign up for next week's breast cancer awareness luncheon at MUW, please call 662-244-1132. The event is free and open to the public.


Carmen K. Sisson is the former news editor at The Dispatch.



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