WARWICK Iris Jennings has a very important anniversary coming up next year. In April she will celebrate her 10th year as a breast cancer survivor. “I can’t emphasize enough how important early detection is,” said Jennings. “Today, thanks to that, I am happy and healthy. It’s wonderful.” October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, when the American Cancer Society reminds women that getting screened at the correct age, early detection, and living a healthy lifestyle are important to saving lives. Jennings, who lives in Warwick with her husband, James, had always followed that advice. She was especially vigilant because her mother had died from breast cancer and she felt that she might also be at high risk. Her diligence paid off. Nine years ago Jennings’ annual mammography revealed what her monthly self-examinations had failed to discover. A subsequent biopsy confirmed her worst fears. Her surgeon, Dr. Niaz Momin, who heads the department of surgery at St. Anthony Community Hospital, performed a modified radical mastectomy. “Dr. Momin was wonderful,” said Jennings. “He was so knowledgeable and reassuring that it gave me the confidence I needed at that time. And I can’t say enough about the staff at St. Anthony Community Hospital and the new Women’s Imaging Center. I urge every woman to take advantage of its services. It could save your life.” All women are at risk for breast cancer, and St. Anthony Community Hospital joins with the American Cancer Society during the month of October in recommending that woman have a mammogram annually. This year the society estimates that 211,240 new cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed among women in the United States. Approximately 40,410 will die from the disease. This year marks more than 20 years that National Breast Cancer Awareness Month has educated women about early breast cancer detection, diagnosis and treatment. One of the key messages is the importance of early detection through annual mammography screening for women over 40. “Mammography screenings are the best way to detect breast cancer early,” said Momin, “but self-examination and a physical exam are also part of the three-step approach.” Other important risk factors for developing breast cancer are personal and family history. Also, exercise, nutrition, not smoking and limiting alcohol consumption may reduce a woman’s risk. Located on Ronald Reagan Boulevard in Warwick, Women’s Imaging Center offers advanced mammography, which produces digital breast images through computerization rather than traditional X-ray film. The enhanced system provides images that increase the rate of cancer detection by 19 percent. Computer-aided detection software takes only a fraction of time needed to process a film mammogram; the image is visible in 10 seconds. If a second opinion is needed, the image can be sent electronically to another physician for immediate review. For more information, visit www.StAnthonyCommunityHosp.org.