October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (NBCAM), and no matter where you are in Delaware during the month of October, you’ll surely see plenty of pink in stores, on buildings, on people, and more. But what does all this pink mean? What does it call us to do? It’s more than just the color of the month — this pink represents important ways people can take care of their own breast health and join the community fight against breast cancer every month of the year. These actions include the following:
Practice Early Detection
Did you know that Delaware ranks third highest in the nation for the number of women over 40 who’ve had a mammogram in the past two years? It’s no coincidence that Delaware also has had fewer breast cancer deaths than the U.S. average. Simply put, mammograms save lives.
A mammogram is a fast, easy, and safe way to screen for breast cancer, and allows your health care provider to look at breast tissue that can’t be felt during an exam. Not only do mammograms help doctors know if you have breast cancer, but they can also help find breast cancer early, when it can be treated more successfully. The later breast cancer is found, the lower the survival rate and the more intensive the treatment.
For early breast cancer detection in females, the Delaware Cancer Consortium makes the following recommendations:
- Females age 40 and older should have a mammogram every year.
- Females age 18 and older should also have a clinical breast exam (CBE) every year.
- Starting at age 20, women should examine their own breasts regularly to know how they normally look and feel. Any changes should be reported to their doctor.
A woman at risk for breast cancer should talk to her health care provider about getting mammograms at an earlier age and/or more frequently than these recommendations. And anywoman who notices a change, abnormality, or “symptom” in the breast should contact her health care provider and be checked immediately, even if she recently had a mammogram.
Schedule Your Mammogram and Encourage Loved Ones to Do the Same
You can talk to your health care provider for help scheduling a mammogram appointment. Or you can use the resources available from Healthy Delaware:
- Click here to request a call from a Healthy Delaware Nurse Navigator.
- Or call 2-1-1 to connect with a Nurse Navigator.
And remember, if you are uninsured or underinsured, you may be eligible for free mammograms through the Delaware Division of Public Health Screening for Life program. Learn more about Screening for Life.
Eliminate Some of Your Risk Factors
While certain breast cancer risk factors, such as being female, getting older, and having gene abnormalities, cannot be changed, you do have the power to reduce other types of risk in your life. These include everything from eating more whole grains to drinking less alcohol to not smoking. Learn more about risk factors and actions you can take.
Other Ways to Get Involved
The breast cancer mortality rate is on the decline in the state of Delaware, and there are approximately 3 million breast cancer survivors living in the U.S. Good news like this can continue as long as people and communities continue to work together! Here are a few ways you can do this:
- Share your story. If you are a breast cancer survivor or know someone who is, share your story to demonstrate the power of early detection. You may want to write a blog, speak at a breast cancer event or simply talk one-on-one with family and neighbors.
- Consider getting involved by volunteering with a local breast cancer organization or hospital.
- Stay informed! Keep an eye on our Facebook and Twitter pages to continue to learn key facts about breast cancer as well as to discover educational opportunities and changes you can make in your life that may help prevent breast cancer or better your chances of survival if you are diagnosed.