Pink Is In The Air: Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Unless you live under a rock you know that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Thanks to the efforts of the National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (NBCAM) campaign pink is the new color for fall.  Everywhere you look buildings are sporting neon pink ribbons, billboards are plastered with motivating messages and seas of pink are racing around major cities nationwide.   But with all this awareness there is also a flood of contradicting information for women to sort through.

To Mammogram or Not:

Trust me, no one wants to subject themselves to a mammogram but we do it because we know that early detection is so very important in fighting this disease. Breast cancer treatment is usually less aggressive and better tolerated when the disease is detected early.  But, now we are getting mixed messages that maybe we don’t need to be rushing to the imaging suites to get our annual mammograms at the age of 40, but rather we should delay this until 50.

The United States Preventive Services Task Force’s  (USPSTF) recent recommendations on mammograms have created quite a bit of confusion.   The USPSTF recommends biennial screening mammography for women aged 50 – 74 and recommends against teaching Breast Self-Examination (BSE).  So what’s a girl to do?

Three leading groups in breast cancer research, treatment and awareness have responded to the USPSTF mammography recommendations:

  • Susan G. Komen: “Susan G. Komen for the Cure wants to eliminate any impediments to regular mammography screening for women age 40 and older. While there is no question that mammograms save lives for women over 50 and women 40–49, there is enough uncertainty about the age at which mammography should begin and the frequency of screening that we would not want to see a change in policy for screening mammography at this time.”

Is a Breast Self Examination (BSE) still recommended?

A monthly BSE has been recommended since 1993; however more than 30 nonrandomized trails have produced conflicting results about the efficacy, sensitivity and specificity of the practice.  The BSE must be done with some level of skill and the current consensus is that BSE should be used in combination with other breast cancer screening modalities such as a Clinical Breast Exam (CBE) and mammography.   A CBE is similar to a BSE but a trained healthcare provider such as your doctor or nurse conducts it.

If you chose to do a monthly BSE you should have your doctor or nurse check your method to make sure you are doing it right.  The biggest benefit of doing a regular BSE is that you know how your breasts normally look and feel so you can more easily notice any changes.  The most important thing is to contact your physician ASAP if you notice any changes in your breasts.

The American Cancer Society and other women’s health organizations still see merit in the monthly BSE and continue to recommend it’s practice.   Save the Ta-Ta’s is an organization committed to raising awareness and providing fun products such as Boob Lube to promote and encourage breast self-examinations.  25% of proceeds go to breast cancer awareness and research.

Where to Get Free or Low Cost Mammograms and Breast Cancer Screening:

If you need help finding a physician or hospital imaging service in your area download the free iPhone app iTriage from iTunes or check out for provider listings in your area.


  1. Here is an artistic eCard, “Chica”, to help spread the words for Breast Cancer Awareness. It is free to send. You can use the default greetings or write your own.

    Here is the preview of the card.

    Here is the description of the card.

    A super powerful little chick tries really hard to deliver a huge pink bouquet of flowers. I created this card after a dear family friend was treated for breast cancer. It is both suitable for personal messages of support or send it for breast cancer awareness. October is breast cancer awareness month so this card is available free of use to all so we can spread the word and find a cure. Also well suited for many other general greetings or to send condolences.

  2. Nice article, I have bookmarked your blog.

  3. Alicia Verity, MSPH

    There is a box to the right for the RSS feed and other social media sites.

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