You may have realized from the plethora of pink products lining store shelves recently that October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The goal of all of those pink products is twofold — to raise awareness about breast cancer and encourage women to get tested for it, and to raise much needed funds for breast cancer research.
So it is working? Fortunately, the answer is yes. Studies show that more women get screened for breast cancer in October and November than at any other time of the year. Maybe it's just the first opportunity that women have to make a doctor's appointment once the kids go back to school. Maybe it's due to a desire to get health issues taken care of before the start of the new year. Or maybe it's all of those pink ribbons staring back at them from their cans of soup and boxes of pasta.
How about the research? While there is still a long way to go in eliminating breast cancer, some promising new studies indicate that the day it is eliminated may finally be within reach. For instance, a new study from the Mayo Clinic looked at the potential of a new screening method called molecular breast imaging (MBI) which is supposedly three times better at finding small tumors in women with dense breasts. That kind of early detection could seriously up a woman's chances of survival. And considering roughly two-thirds of women in their 40s have "dense breasts" this new test could put a big dent in the number of women who lose their lives to breast cancer.
There is also some good news in terms of breast cancer treatment. Researchers are looking at a new genetic test that may be able to predict whether a patient will do better with one type of treatment over another, saving women time, reducing unnecessary side effects, and increasing a woman's overall chance of survival.
So all of those pink scarves and pink coffee cups may very well help to bring us closer to the day when breast cancer is a thing of the past. But in the meantime, don't forget to get yourself in to the doctor for a screening. And if you are going to buy one of those pretty pink products, don't forget to think before you pink to make sure that your purchases will really go to support the cause.