Are You Wearing Pink?
October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month
Well, it’s October – so you know what that means! Pull out your pink attire people and let’s celebrate, or remember, our moms, aunts, sisters, grandmothers, best friends, neighbors…and yes, even some of the men in our lives that have fought the hard battle with breast cancer.
We have come so far in this battle – but there is still work to be done. The Kentucky Cancer Registry shows a continued downward trend in breast cancer-related deaths in Jessamine County from seven deaths in 2011 to five or under in 2015. However, with death rates decreasing we are still experiencing an upward trend in breast cancer diagnosis. In 2011, 257 breast cancer cases were diagnosed in Jessamine County which increased to 278 cases in 2015.
What does this data say? Early detection and breast cancer screenings do work! We are diagnosing more cases but saving more lives at the same time. Breast cancer is not a death sentence – but, we must do our due diligence and follow the guidelines that have been set and listen to our medical providers and experts.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologist recommend following a few steps in the fight against breast cancer. First, a monthly self-breast exam. You know your body best and you know when something doesn’t look or feel right. Follow up immediately with your provider if you feel a lump or see something unusual during your monthly self-breast exams and start exams as early as possible. Second, an annual clinical breast exam by a doctor or nurse who is trained to feel for lumps or other changes in the breast. This is recommended starting at 40-years-old Third, an annual screening mammogram. Mammograms are the best way to find breast cancer early when it is easier to treat and before it is big enough to feel or cause symptoms. Having regular mammograms can lower the risk of dying from breast cancer. At this time, a mammogram is the best way to find breast cancer for most women. This is recommended for women starting at 40-years-old.
You may ask, what can you do to lower your risk of breast cancer? Staying healthy throughout your life will lower your risk of developing cancer and improve your chances of surviving cancer if it occurs. Keeping a healthy weight, exercising regularly, limiting alcohol intake, and talking to your doctor about hormone replacement therapy and/or birth control pills can help find out your risk, breastfeed your babies if possible and talk to your doctor if you have a family history of breast cancer.
For more information about breast cancer screenings visit www.jessaminehealth.org, www.cdc.gov or www.cancer.org or call 859-885-4149.
Andrea Brown is the deputy director at the Jessamine County Health Department.