VICENZA, Italy -- October is a month dedicated to Breast Cancer Awareness. This cancer is the most frequent type of non-skin cancer and the most frequent cause of cancer death among women worldwide, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"It is estimated that one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. For example, imagine you are out to dinner with seven of your closest girlfriends; one of those individuals will be diagnosed with breast cancer according to those statistics," said Lt. Col. Burton Newman, DO, U.S. Army Health Clinic Vicenza Deputy Commander of Clinical Services.

It is a fact that makes us take note of the importance of recognizing risk factors, understanding the importance of early diagnosis and how women can make a difference in each other's' lives encouraging the spread of this knowledge.

"While, yes, men can get breast cancer too, it affects women 1,000 times more. For women the risk level goes up if she has a first degree relative (mother or sibling) with breast cancer, has not had children by age 30, or has the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation," said Newman.

According to the CDC website, currently there is no proven way to prevent breast cancer, but there are some things women can do that decrease their risk. The CDC reports those who smoke, are overweight, have poor diets heavy with cured meats, and who overuse alcohol, and who have not breastfed, have an increased risk of breast cancer.

"Routine breast self-exams help patients improve their prognosis by helping to identify the lump associated with breast cancer early. Women can develop benign breast cysts in response to monthly hormonal changes, so regular breast self-exams are important for a woman to know what is normal for their body. If a lump persists over several cycles, gets larger, or is concerning, then an appointment to see the primary care provider should be the next step," said Newman.

According to the CDC, late signs of breast cancer include swollen lymph nodes that feel like a painful bump underneath the skin, along the chest, back or armpits. Women may see changes in their breast's appearance and the skin will become thicker or dimpled. Another sign could be pain in the abdomen or back of the legs. Additionally the woman can experience unexplained weight loss and fatigue.

While the U.S. Army Health Clinic-Vicenza does not offer mammography screening, the service is offered at San Bortolo Hospital in Vicenza. No referral is necessary for those older than 40. To make an appointment, call 0444-61-9070 or go to the Radiology Clinic desk at the health clinic here, where arrangements will be made, including transportation.

Patients will meet at the clinic on the day of the appointment and the radiology technologist will escort everyone to the appointment at San Bortolo.

The professionals at USAHC-Vicenza encourages all patients to talk to their primary care provider about breast cancer and risk factors to determine if a mammogram or self-breast exams are right for you.