Let’s talk tatas. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This annual campaign is aimed at increasing awareness of the disease that impacts about 237,000 women and 2,100 men each year. Pink is the month’s signature color and the White House is awash each night with pink lights.
Awareness and early detection are critical. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that about 41,000 women and 450 men in the U.S. die each year from breast cancer. Over the past decade, the risk of getting breast cancer has not changed for women overall, but the risk has increased for specific ethnicities, CDC says.
The risk of getting breast cancer goes up with age. In this country, according to CDC, the average age when women are diagnosed with breast cancer is 61. Men who get breast cancer are diagnosed usually between 60 and 70 years old.
In the U.S., not counting some types of skin cancer, breast cancer is the common cancer in women, no matter your race or ethnicity. It is the most common cause of death from cancer among Hispanic women — and the second most common cause of death from cancer among white, black, Asian/Pacific Islander, and American Indian/Alaska Native women.
The American Cancer Society recommends that women start getting yearly mammograms at age 40. Women who have a particularly high risk of breast cancer should start getting mammograms at an earlier age. Though men have a comparatively much lower risk than women of developing breast cancer and mammograms are not routinely recommended, the risk is still there. So, it is important for men talk with their doctors if they discover a lump in their breast.
Bringing the statistics closer to home, the incident rate for breast cancer in Arkansas women is 113.9 per 100,000 population, according to CDC. The number of women who die is 22.9 per 100,000 population. Those numbers are based on 2014 data.
President Bill Clinton designated the third Friday of October as National Mammography Day in 1993. This day serves as a reminder to all women that the best defense is early detection. A mammogram can often detect a problem before there is any outward physical sign.
A simple X-ray image taken of your breasts is the screening for signs of breast cancer. Mammograms are offered at a variety of places like hospitals, freestanding testing centers, and departments within clinics.
National Mammography Day is Oct. 20. Have you had yours? If not, schedule it. This month and day provides an opportunity for you to get involved with Breast Cancer Awareness Month by taking charge of your health and encouraging your family and friends to do the same. It could save your life or the life of someone you love. Get it done.
Shea Wilson is the former managing editor of the El Dorado News-Times. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @SheaWilson7.