Another fall season is upon us in its typical fashion of conjuring up all things pumpkin spice. Of course here in Western Pennsylvania, we have the opportunity to watch the leaves turn from healthy green to vibrant shades of orange, yellow and red.
But the color perhaps most importantly associated with the fall season is pink — a hue used in hopes of saving lives.
Every year in October, we are reminded of how many lives are sadly taken from breast cancer.
In Greene County alone, from 2012-2016, 21 women died from the disease, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In Washington County, 169 women died during those years. In Fayette County: 133 women and 337 women from Westmoreland County. In the four-county region, a total of 660 lives were lost to breast cancer.
According to the CDC, each year in the United States, more than 245,000 women get breast cancer and more than 40,000 women die from the disease.
It is a disease that does not discriminate. The CDC reports that in addition, each year in the United States, about about 2,200 in men are diagnosed with breast cancer and about 460 men die from the disease every year.
It is a sad statistic, but medical advancements are allowing for earlier detection of breast cancer. It is important that both men and women take advantage of those medical advancements, before it is too late.
The CDC states that mammograms are crucial, as they allow medical professionals to find breast cancer sooner, before any symptoms are present. Finding the cancer as early as possible often leads to more effective treatment.
The United States Preventive Services Task Force recommends that women ages 50-74 who are at average risk for the disease get a mammogram, an X-ray of the breasts, every two years while those ages 40-49 should converse with their doctors about screenings.
It is our hope that a lack of medical insurance or any other expense from recommended screenings are not factors in why women elect to not have a mammogram. Most insurances companies cover the screenings, but there are programs that can help for those without insurance, and we strongly urge those women to talk with their doctors about options.
In the meantime, we implore the community to continue the quest of remembering the lives we have lost, supporting those who are courageously still battling the disease and bringing awareness of the importance of scheduling screenings.
Have conversations with your mother, your grandmother, your daughter, your friend,
even the men in your lives. Let them know how a relatively quick trip to the doctor could make all the difference.
The more women who are enlightened about the importance of early breast cancer detection, the better the chance that a life can be saved.