More than 6,000 participants are expected to take part in Sunday’s annual Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk at Queens Borough Hall in Kew Gardens.
Last year, an estimated 6,500 men, women and children marched in the event and officials hope that this year there will be even more. Money raised goes to support the American Cancer Society’s breast cancer research, education, advocacy and patient service programs.
The five-mile walk includes individuals and groups marching to bring awareness of the disease that claims the lives of more than 330 Queens women every year. Last year, the event raised $706,000.
Sunday’s stroll begins at Borough Hall, 120-55 Queens Blvd., with registration starting at 9 a.m. and the walk at 11 a.m.
The event is sponsored by the ACS. Officials there say breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in women and the second leading cause of cancer death in females after lung cancer.
The group estimates that 182,460 women in the United States will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer this year and 40,480 will die from the disease. However, improved treatments, increased awareness about the importance of early detection and higher use of mammograms have contributed to a 25 percent decline in breast cancer death rates since 1991.
Health experts say getting a yearly mammogram is the most important thing that women can do to identify breast cancer early and win the fight against the disease before symptoms develop and when it is most treatable.
According to new statistics for 2007, more women are getting the message about screening. In New York City, of the nearly 400,000 women 40 and older, 61.1 percent had a mammogram. This is a slight improvement from the last few years.
“The new figures are promising, but we want to see significant screening rate increases,” said Dr. Clare Bradley, chairwoman of the ACS’s Mammography Strike Force. “We are inspired by this new data, but in order to meet goals, the rates must improve drastically.”
According to the ACS and the Breast Center at New York Hospital Queens in Flushing, healthy lifestyles can have an impact on breast cancer. Drinking two alcoholic beverages a day is one negative factor as is an improper diet. Obesity plays a role in the disease.
Experts also say exercise is also important as a deterrent to breast cancer. Some women with no family history of the disease have been shown to have a 30 to 50 percent lower risk of developing breast cancer if they exercise twice a week.
Dr. Karen Karsif, director of the Breast Center, said women are more aware of the disease and have learned to perform self-exams on a monthly basis. She also believes mammograms are still the best screening tool. A baseline test should be done at 40.
Karsif said the biggest myth about breast cancer is that women think they can’t get it because it doesn’t run in their family. “Most cases are not genetic,” she added.
The specialist recommends digital mammography for young women and those with dense tissue. For post-menopausal women, the digital testing doesn’t make much of a difference and regular mammograms are fine.
To participate in Sunday’s Making Strides walk in Queens, go to www.cancer.org/stridesonline. To reach Karsif’s office, call (718) 670-1185.