Breast cancer is one of the most common malignancy in women in the United States. An estimated 207,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in the United States in 2010. About 39,800 women will die from breast cancer this year.

A woman's risk for breast cancer is greater if a close relative has had breast cancer, but more than 70 percent of breast cancers are diagnosed in women who do not have a mother or sister who has had breast cancer. And, as women age, their risk for breast cancer increases. About two-thirds of all breast cancers occur in women over 55. One in eight women will develop breast cancer during her lifetime.

To help raise awareness for the disease, South Central Kansas Medical Center is offering two for one mammogram screenings during the entire month of October. Participants will receive a certificate for a free screening mammogram with a paid screening. The certificate can either be used by the patient at a later date, given to a friend or family member, or donated back to the hospital to be used for someone who may not have insurance coverage.

"The key to mammography screening is that it be done routinely - once is not enough. If you have any changes or concerns with your breast see your physician as soon as possible, do not wait," said Nikki Morris, the medical center's lead mammographer.

Mammography has been shown to be one of the most effective methods of detecting breast cancer early, and it is recommended that women age 40 and older receive a mammogram every one to two years. These screenings along with self-exams and clinical exams performed by your doctor are the front line defense against breast cancer. When breast cancer is diagnosed at an early stage, over 96 percent of women survive for more than five years. Today there are more than 2 million breast cancer survivors in the United States.

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

The medical center will kick off their month long awareness campaign with Morris presenting on "The Importance of Having a Mammogram" at the next Dr. Joe Know health education series on Tuesday, September 28th at 9:00 a.m. in the hospital's cafeteria. The first 25 guests for the seminar will receive a free certificate for a screening mammogram.

To schedule an appointment for a screening mammogram examination with South Central Kansas Medical Center call Central Scheduling at 441-5769. For more information on mammograms and details on this special offer contact the medical center's radiology department at 441-5750.