Think Pink!

October is here and the Halloween items and “pink ribbons” we’ll be out in full force! This month you will find a multitude of information and educational promotions on breast cancer, research, and screening information. These pink ribbons have become a woman’s annual visual reminder to schedule screening exams and actively try to practice an overall healthier lifestyle.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month health promotions and screenings are a very important part of the partnership between patients and providers. By a combination of education, counseling, and testing, each of us is provided the approach to live healthier. And a healthy lifestyle is something we should all strive to do better, every day. This includes the standards- eat right, exercise, watch your weight, stop smoking, reduce stress, sleep well, scheduling regular exams, etc… sometimes this is all easier said than done, but make this month your opportunity to try and do all of these things a little better for the coming year. Overall, by following these healthy habits, women (and men) can help reduce their risk of heart disease, diabetes, high cholesterol, osteoporosis, and cancer, plus you will feel better all around!

This month, women should specifically be “thinkin’ pink” to gather information on individual breast cancer risk and screening options. Each individual has a unique family & personal medical history that impacts your chance of getting breast cancer! Are you at high risk or average risk? Determining this risk level with a provider at your annual physical will help you make a plan for all future testing, screenings, and their frequency.

Screening tests are used to find the breast cancer before it causes warning signs or symptoms. If we find the breast cancer early, then the chances of survival are highest! There are two main screening tests that include clinical breast exams and mammography.

Breast self-exams should be done monthly by individuals. A clinical breast exam should be done by a provider for women of all ages during a regular physical. The recommendations for a mammogram have changed over the years for age and frequency with research. Most experts and our providers recommend that women age 40-49 make an informed decision with a provider to decide when and how often a mammogram should be done. A provider can help evaluate patient and family history and other health risk factors to determine if annually is best. Women age 50+ should have a mammogram on a regular annual basis and consult with a provider for any questions. A breast MRI or ultrasound may also be ordered by your provider for individuals with high risk and is used for follow-up to abnormal mammograms for better diagnosis and staging.

This year, we hope that women in our community were able to take advantage of the annual “Brake for Breakfast” event held on the morning of October 3rd. Our regional Hospital Cooperative and 14 area hospitals participate to reach over 10,000 people throughout Southeast Idaho for this one-day event. Please use the information you receive as the opportunity to learn more about breast cancer and your possible risks. Discuss this with your provider to make sure you get screenings scheduled as appropriate this fall. The Portneuf Medical mobile mammography bus is available locally at the Power County Family Clinic (502 Tyhee Ave), during hospital construction, on the 1st Tuesday of each month- please call 208-226-3200 to schedule your appointment!

We are always excited to help our community be involved in health education events, such as Breast Cancer Awareness Month. We encourage all women to actively participate in health education and screening opportunities held throughout the year. Remember to take care of your health, not only for yourself, but also for your loved ones, who depend on you!