With the temperatures cooling down, it is easy to tell that autumn is near. A football game is on every television screen; lush reds, burnt browns, and flaming yellows swirl around you. People are wearing sweaters and coats that are adorned with a flash of pink.
Looking more closely, pink can be found almost everywhere, including a pink White House. For one month of the year, the White House becomes a color best described as “Pepto-Bismol.” Pink is as popular as pumpkin spice in the fall, because October is breast cancer awareness month.
Breast cancer does not discriminate. It is the number one cancer diagnosed in women per the Centers for Disease Control. Roughly one woman out of every eight will develop breast cancer during her lifetime. Death from breast cancer is second only to lung cancer in the United States. These statistics are devastating, and so is the impact on women and their Families. Therefore, there is a push on all fronts to educate everyone about breast cancer and screening methods.
Mammograms screen for breast cancer. A mammogram is an X-ray of the breast that is used to look for changes consistent with cancer.
A technician will guide you through the procedure that lasts roughly 20 minutes. You can feel some discomfort during the test, but it is not painful. Some tips to make your mammogram go smoothly include wearing a button-down shirt that can easily be removed, as well as not wearing deodorant, because this can cause spots to appear on the image. After the procedure, a radiologist will review the X-rays and let you know the results.
The American Cancer Society recommends that women ages 40 to 44 should each decide if they would like to have annual mammograms. For women ages 45 to 54, mammogram should be done yearly, and at 55 years old, patients may space out their mammograms to every two years.
Additionally, if you have a close relative, such as a mother or sister, who had breast cancer diagnosed at an early age (under 50 years old), you may need a mammogram, or other testing, earlier.
Take the time to sit down with your primary care provider to discuss your risks for breast cancer and the screening that is best for you.
Keep an open dialogue with your doctor about your healthcare concerns; this is important not only for your relationship with your doctor, but also for your understanding of your wellness as a whole.
Join in painting America pink this month, and pass along the word about breast cancer screening. As always, if you have any concerns or would like to discuss your options further, please schedule an appointment with your own primary care provider.