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by Abigail Van Buren

Sing It Out, Sing It Loud: Get a Regular Mammogram!

DEAR READERS: The letter from the woman who felt a lump in her breast but was afraid to go to the doctor prompted a deluge of mail. Some typical letters:

DEAR ABBY: I lost my mother and three sisters to cancer, so I can sympathize with "Scared to Death," who felt a lump in her breast and was afraid to get a mammogram.

I join you, Abby, in urging all women -- even those without lumps -- to get mammograms regularly. They can save your life. Please tell your readers that any woman can get breast cancer whether it's in her family or not; 80 percent of the women who get breast cancer do NOT have it in their family.

A mammogram can detect breast cancer two years before a woman or her doctor can feel a lump. All women should have regular mammograms beginning at age 40 -- particularly women of color because they are more likely to die because they didn't catch it early enough.

I urge all my sisters, black or white, to educate themselves about this scary but treatable disease. For more information, your readers can dial 1-800-4-CANCER. -- PATTI LABELLE