By now, with the notorious pink explosion that October brings, most people are well aware of the prevalence of breast cancer. These pink attention grabbers are meant to serve as reminders to schedule doctor and mammogram appointments, perform self breast exams (SBEs), recognize survivors, and remember people who have lost their lives to this disease.
Can National Breast Cancer Awareness Month make a difference?
Absolutely. October is an opportunity to encourage friends and family to take precautions to detect breast cancer early. Breast cancer is the second most common cancer in women (with skin cancer being the first). About 1 in 8 women and 1 in 1,000 men in the United States will get breast cancer. But today, millions are surviving with early detection and improvements in treatment.
Precautions and recommendations include:
- Self-education. Speak to your physician, nurses, and students about the importance of getting screened for breast cancer. Schedule an appointment for a thorough breast exam.
- Women over 35 should talk with their physician about when to start getting mammograms and the recommended frequency. A mammogram is the screening test for breast cancer and can help women detect breast cancer early, when it’s easiest to treat.
- Only 67% of women 40 and older have had a mammogram in the past two years.
- Conduct a monthly SBE. There are easy-to-use apps available to install on smart phones to provide the steps involved in a SBE. Some even include a reminders feature, making monthly SBEs hard to skip.
- Consider attending a local event to learn more, and to honor and remember those who have been most affected by this deadly disease. At these events, statistics and literature are provided, along with networking opportunities for those impacted by breast cancer. Some attendees learn more while also having opportunities for healthy activities and to make donations.
Whether you are trying to reduce your risk of breast cancer, increase the chance of early detection, or are coping with this disease, the American Cancer Society has comprehensive information to help you understand your options and learn more. Visit http://www.cancer.org/ for more information.
Monthly SBEs, annual exams with a qualified healthcare provider, and mammogram testing are the three measures to take for catching breast cancer in its earliest stages. Stay proactive, and remember to spread the word: early detection means early attention and in most cases, better outcomes.
This month Pocket Nurse recognizes all breast cancer survivors and honors victims and their families. To raise student awareness, consider investing in some pink supplies for the classroom, such as gloves and stethoscopes. Several trainers and models are available as well to educate nursing students how to perform breast exams and SBEs.
For more information:
For information and resources about metastatic breast cancer, visit METAvivor.