Health and Human Services Secretary Margaret M. Heckler, declaring fear and ignorance "the most potent allies of breast cancer," called on national women's groups Wednesday to engage in a public information campaign among their members.
Speaking at a conference of women's groups at the National Institutes of Health, Heckler noted that one of every 11 women will develop breast cancer at some point in her life. An estimated 38,000 women will die of the disease this year.
"Too many women will die unnecessarily because a cancer which could have been recognized and treated early went undetected out of fear or ignorance," she said. "There is our challenge: to conquer that fear, to abolish that ignorance."
With greater knowledge of risk factors--including age, family history and delay in having children--individual women can learn whether their chances of being stricken with breast cancer are higher than normal, she said.