ImageThere is an old saying –real men don’t wear pink.  On Saturday, October 26, the manly members of the Ohio State football team and over 90,000 other real men and women wore pink in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, also raising awareness about programs at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Stefanie Spielman Comprehensive Breast Center.  It’s not often you see a football team, much less an entire stadium, drenched in pink.  It was a very visual reminder of breast cancer awareness.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month may be coming to a close, but breast cancer won’t stop at the end of the month. I would imagine you know someone who has been affected by breast cancer. You may wonder what can you do besides wear pink? You can start by taking steps to detect the disease in its early stages and encourage others to do the same.  Yes, men DO wear pink and CAN encourage the women they love to get breast cancer screenings.

The importance of finding breast cancer early

The goal of screening exams for early breast cancer detection is to find cancers before they start to cause symptoms. Most doctors feel that early detection tests for breast cancer save thousands of lives each year, and that many more lives could be saved if even more women and their health care providers took advantage of these tests.

Women age 40 and older should have a mammogram every year and should continue to do so for as long as they are in good health.

  • Despite their limitations, mammograms are still a very effective and valuable tool for decreasing suffering and death from breast cancer.

Women in their 20s and 30s should have a clinical breast exam (CBE) as part of a periodic (regular) health exam by a health professional preferably every 3 years. Starting at age 40, women should have a CBE by a health professional every year.

  • CBE is done along with mammograms and offers a chance for women and their doctor or nurse to discuss changes in their breasts, early detection testing, and factors in the woman’s history that might make her more likely to have breast cancer.

Breast self-exam (BSE) is an option for women starting in their 20s. Women should report any breast changes to their health professional right away.

  • Sometimes, women are so concerned about “doing it right” that they become stressed over the technique. Doing BSE regularly is one way for women to know how their breasts normally look and feel and to notice any changes. The goal, with or without BSE, is to report any breast changes to a doctor or nurse right away.

There are additional tests to be considered if you are at high risk.   Talk with your doctor to determine if you are at high risk and if an MRI makes sense for you.

Valorie Bender CWPM

Source:  American Cancer Society (last updated 09/17/2013). Breast Cancer, Early Detection. Retrieved October 16, 2013, from