Since 1985, October has been known as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Now October has been nicknamed Pinktober, from organizations raising funds to find a cure, the increased pink goods for sale, and even the NFL sporting pink with their uniforms.
The American Cancer Society (ACS) focuses on breast cancer this month to raise awareness about finding cancer early. One in eight women will develop breast cancer in her life. Early detection helps in treating breast cancer sooner rather than later.
Here are some tips to increase the odds of finding out early and to “Think Pink” this month:
- Self-Exam – Adult women should examine their breasts at least one time a month. According to John Hopkins Medical Center, “Forty percent of diagnosed breast cancers are found by women who feel a lump, so setting up a routine breast self-exam is vital.” Become familiar with how your breasts look and feel by checking them in the shower, in front of a mirror, and while lying down. This will help you notice changes.
- Clinical Exam – This should be done at your yearly exam. A health care provider has experience in detecting the early warning signs of cancer development.
- Mammograms – A mammogram can show a tumor two years before you or your doctor would feel it. According the ACS, women ages:
- 40-44: Talk to your health care provider about when to start and how often
- 45-54: Every year
- 55 and older: Every 1 to 2 years with continued good health
- Awareness for Men – Breast cancer is not limited to women. One in one thousand men get breast cancer. Since men have smaller breast tissue, it is easier to feel lumps. But because they are smaller, the cancer often spreads quicker to other tissues and lymph nodes. Men’s lack of awareness of being able to get breast cancer, or even embarrassment, is problematic because it delays treatment.
If you do find a lump, do not panic. Eight out of ten lumps are not cancer. Call your health care provider to get it checked. This will give you peace of mind. Then, if it is something more serious, you will be able to start treatment earlier.
American Cancer Society.