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Last week, Calvert County Health Officer Laurence Polsky presented an alarming report before the Calvert County Board of County Commissioners which indicated Calvertís mortality rates for lung and breast cancer in women between 2005 and 2009 were higher than expected. As Polsky explained, higher breast cancer mortality rates are expected in areas where a larger percentage of the population is impoverished or areas where there is a high minority population, ďand neither of those apply to Calvert,Ē he said.

While Polksy said he was double-checking the numbers cited in the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygieneís 2012 Cancer Report of the Cigarette Restitution Fund Program, at a glance, the study indicates Calvert has a higher female breast cancer rate than the state on average. The mortality rate is 25 percent higher than the national average of 23 percent and the stateís rate of 24.7 percent.

Thatís an alarming statistic, even if there are other factors that could suggest the numbers might not truly indicate that breast cancer is a death sentence in Calvert. But any doctor or breast cancer survivor will tell us the same thing: Early detection can save lives.

Thankfully, Calvert County residents have the help they need right nearby: The Center for Breast Care at the Calvert Medical Arts Center, located next to Calvert Memorial Hospital, has state-of-the-art technology ready to help treat and prevent breast cancer in Southern Marylanders. The center, which opened in 2010 and was headed by the late Dr. Sheldon Goldberg, combines technology and specialists in the field to provide expert and quality care to patients. The Calvert Medical Imaging Center, located in the same building, helps physicians spot signs of breast cancer early by providing state-of-the art mammography, breast MRI and stereostatic biopsy, according the CMH website.

Since the report only analyzes 2005 to 2009 mortality rates, the positive results of the center are not yet reflected in the study. While the Center for Breast Care is certainly a useful tool to have nearby, talking to your doctor about breast care and performing self-examinations regularly can help lower the mortality rate. As with most forms of cancer, early detection can make a world of difference in oneís life.