Gunther Commemorates National Breast Cancer Awareness Month

It is important that we celebrate breast cancer survivors and remember those who have lost their lives to the disease, as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month celebrates its 20th anniversary this month. However, we must also keep in mind the critical steps that can be taken to prevent and treat this disease. Early detection and proper treatment will help save the lives of our loved ones from deadly disease.

Over the past 20 years countless strides have been made to protect women and defeat breast cancer. Studies have shown that women are being screened earlier and more regularly with the help of a landmark law the Assembly passed mandating that insurers pay for annual mammograms and cervical cancer screenings in women age 40 and older (Ch. 554 of 2002). Approximately 2 million women are living as breast cancer survivors in the United States today, according to the National Breast Cancer Organization. The American Cancer Society reported that about 90 percent of breast cancer cases are now being detected before spreading to other parts of the body, helping bring breast cancer survivorship to an all-time high.

I am also urging women surviving breast cancer to be aware of their risk of developing lymphedema - a chronic condition often occurring after cancer treatment, surgery or trauma. I helped pass a law (Ch. 414 of 2005) which created outreach programs and wellness education in health care facilities. Health care professionals are encouraged to place a bright pink wrist band on patients affected by lymphedema to alert hospital personnel that the arm should not be used for blood pressure screenings, intravenous infusion injections or blood tests.

Noteworthy advances have been made toward the fight against breast cancer. However, there is still more to be done. That’s why I have sponsored legislation that will ban insurance companies from discriminating against individuals based on genetic information about the insured individual and his or her family (A.720). Additionally, I’ve supported legislation to expand Medicaid to cover treatment for breast and cervical cancer for anyone diagnosed through the Center for Disease Control Early Detection and Prevention program, as provided on the local level through the Healthy Women Partnership Program (A.4472); and guarantee that the State will match any bequest, grant or gift to the Breast Cancer Research and Education Fund (A.2323).

Regular screenings and early detection can make a breast cancer diagnosis a less traumatic experience. Raising awareness of breast cancer has proven to be life-saving, as discoveries of the disease are being made earlier. I encourage you to take advantage of these helpful resources:

  • Y-ME National Breast Cancer Organization at 800-221-2141 or their Web site; and
  • Adelphi New York Statewide Beast Cancer Hotline and Support Program at 800-877-8077 or

I am working hard to ensure that the women of New York are aware of the threats of this dreadful disease, and have proper access to the most up-to-date screening measures. We can save lives with early diagnosis and proper treatment. Please contact my office by calling 794-5807 for more information on early detection programs and support.