Pink serves purpose
October is National Breast Cancer Awareness month. It is the time to remind us that mammography and breast examinations are important in the fight against breast cancer.
In the last few years there has been controversy over revised guidelines and recommendations for screening mammography. The American Cancer Society and the American College of Radiology recommend the following: A woman over the age of 40 should have a screening mammogram as well as a clinical breast exam with her doctor annually.
If a woman of any age notices any changes in her breasts, she should contact her doctor or health care provider as soon as possible for consultation. Additionally, if there is an increased risk for breast cancer, such as a family history, consult your physician about when to begin mammography or other testing.
The most common symptom of breast cancer is a new lump or mass.
Other possible signs of breast cancer include:
• Swelling of all or part of a breast (even if no distinct lump is felt)
• Skin irritation or dimpling
• Breast or nipple pain
• Nipple retraction (turning inward)
• Redness, scaliness, or thickening of the nipple or breast skin
• Nipple discharge (other than breast milk)
One in eight women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. Early diagnosis is the key to surviving breast cancer and mammography is still considered the gold standard for detecting early breast cancer disease. In many cases, a mammogram can identify and abnormal breast mass as much as two years before a physical change would be noticed.
As we move through the month of October and see all of the pink colors that are displayed and worn, we need to remember that “pink” serves a purpose. The pink ribbon reminds us to take care of ourselves and our loved ones.
The Jefferson County Health Center will be holding two “Bagging for Breast Cancer Awareness” events in October. We will be giving away education materials and pink grocery bags in Fairfield at Walmart from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday and at the Fairfield Hy-Vee Food and Drug Store from 8 a.m. to noon Oct. 26 or while supplies last.
Linda Marlay is an X-ray manager at Jefferson County Health Center.
The To Your Health column is provided by Jefferson County Health Center staff and published monthly in The Fairfield Ledger. For information about the columns, call the health center at 472-4111.