Andersen AFB clinic hosts breast cancer awareness open house Published Oct. 25, 2009 By Senior Airman Isaac Garden 36th Wing Public Affairs ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam -- Andersen AFB's Breast Cancer Awareness Committee held an open house at the 36th Medical Group clinic Oct. 20 to inform the public about breast cancer. Breast cancer can occur in men and women and, according to MayoClinic.com, after skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in women in the United States. Breast cancer, which affects one-in-eight women, is diagnosed every three minutes and claims the life of someone every 13 minutes, according to The National Cancer Institute. The Breast Cancer Awareness Committee's goal was to increase awareness of this ailment and to encourage people to look for signs early and often. The committee's motto is "early detection is the best protection," and Lina Ruhlman, spouse to the 36th Wing commander, Brig. Gen. Phil Ruhlman, knows this slogan all too well, being a breast cancer survivor. "Most women, who are diagnosed in later stages of cancer, or with very large cancerous lumps, have to go into surgery within days of being diagnosed," Mrs. Ruhlman said. Mrs. Ruhlman was at Landstuhl, Germany's Regional Medical Center for her routine mammogram when she was told to prepare for some extra tests. As she approaches the three-year anniversary of her diagnosis, she looks back and realizes how worse things would have been if she had not visited the doctor. "Because I was detected so early, I really had the luxury of a second opinion and time to process and weigh all of my decisions, Mrs. Ruhlman said. "Early detection is the absolute key to survival and longevity." What are the risk factors associated with breast cancer? A risk factor is anything that makes it more likely you'll get a particular disease. While people may have one or more risk factors, that doesn't mean they'll develop cancer. "Nowhere in the risk factors does it say you have to be an unhealthy or unfit person to get breast cancer, it leaves no group untouched," Mrs. Ruhlman said. The American Cancer Society recommends that women should have a baseline mammogram between the ages of 35 and 40 years old. Between 40 and 50 years of age, mammograms are recommended every other year. After reaching 50 years of age, yearly mammograms are recommended. Routine self breast exams and doctor visits are two ways that women can monitor themselves and stay aware of their health and of dangers such as breast cancer. For more information on mammograms and breast cancer awareness, call Naval Base Guam's radiology clinic at 344-9274.