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What It Means To Be “Aware” Of Breast Cancer During Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October 19, 2019

The change of colors happens every year in October. We’re not talking about the yellows and reds of autumn leaves; we’re talking about the pink that comes with Breast Cancer Awareness Month. By now you’ve seen brands turn their social media headers pink or offer to sell tee-shirts reminding us that breast cancer is still a threat to American women. Giving back to research and highlighting this important health issue is something that deserves applause, but what does “awareness” really mean?

Tapping into awareness of breast cancer

As one survivor put it, “I assure you — I’m aware of breast cancer.” She doesn’t feel the need to wear pink or participate in a seasonal walk. She lost both of her breasts to a double mastectomy and has been cancer-free for nine years. Her friends and family are definitely “aware” of breast cancer, too, having been with her through her diagnosis and treatment. And they’re not alone: one in eight women in the U.S. will develop breast cancer at some point in her life. Suffice it to say: a lot of people are already very aware of breast cancer.  

So what do all these walks and pushes for “awareness” really mean?

They can mean a lot. While these “awareness” campaigns can seem cynical, especially to survivors, getting the word out about breast cancer is imperative to rising survival rates. Why? Because early detection is one of the biggest tools women have in fighting breast cancer.

Awareness doesn’t have to mean wearing pink in October or participating in breast cancer marketing efforts. It means remembering to educate yourself — and your friends — about breast cancer, and what you can do to fight it.

Educating yourself on breast cancer fighting tools

During Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we recommend that women take the time to educate themselves on breast cancer and how to fight it. This includes:

Many women are already aware that getting a mammogram is the highly effective early detection tool for breast cancer. Mammography, as the process is called, involves compressing and spreading out the breasts on firm surfaces and then taking an X-ray photograph of the tissue. Most women begin getting mammograms on an annual or biennial (every two years) basis in their 40s, although doctors differ on their recommendations. 

What you may not be aware of are other effective screening tools, such as breast thermography, which can add another window into your breast health.

Adding breast thermography to your breast cancer fighting toolbox

Breast thermography is a relatively new tool in detecting breast changes and monitoring breast health. Developed in 1982, the process uses infrared imaging technology to scan the breast and produce a very detailed heat map. The resulting image can detect the new blood vessels that grow from tumors, as well as other threats to breast health. 

There are many benefits to adding breast thermography to your toolbox in the fight against breast cancer, including:

  • It’s a painless procedure
  • It’s completely safe and does not expose you to radiation
  • You can have as many tests as you and your doctor deem necessary, instead of waiting at least six months between scans
  • It can be used on anyone at any age
  • It can detect changes in the chest wall for patients who have undergone a mastectomy
  • It detects other changes to the breast other than cancer

Used in conjunction with other breast cancer screening tools like mammography and biopsy, breast thermography is an efficient, effective way to take control of your breast health.

Well Life Family Medicine offers breast thermography during Breast Cancer Awareness Month and throughout the year. If you’re ready to take control of your breast health, get in touch today to schedule an appointment. 

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