National Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October brings with it many great things: the start of autumn, beautiful foliage, football games, candy corn, pumpkin lattes… and a lot of pink.

In October, we see pink ribbons, pink candies, pink T-shirts, pink bracelets and pink sneakers. In recent years, we have even seen hot pink accents on our favorite local and NFL players.

So why does the first full month of autumn take on a rosy hue across America?

Unfortunately for some, it is not a second coming of Valentine’s Day, but rather, all of the pink we see from now through Halloween is to raise awareness for women’s health, because October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

In Montana, breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among women, accounting for 33% of all cancers diagnosed among Montana women. Lung cancer (15%) and colorectal cancer (11%) are the second and third most common cancers among women in Montana, respectively. (Data from the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services, Montana Central Tumor Registry, 1980-2014.)

Though you may or may not choose to add splashes of hot pink to your wardrobe this month, we can all support the national campaign against breast cancer.
The Gallatin City-County Health Department encourages all wives, sisters, mothers, and daughters to Think P.I.N.K. this October. This means:

The chances of survival are better if any cancer is detected early and before it spreads to other parts of the body. In fact, when breast cancer is found early and confined to the breast, the 5-year survival rate is 98 percent. Talk to your healthcare provider about the best time to start screening (for any type of cancer, not just breast) and the various screening options available.

If you or someone you know is concerned about paying for screening services or have further questions call our Cancer Screening Program, at 582-3107 or check out the program details here.

Women often struggle with balancing family, work, and taking care of themselves. Being sure to eat right, get enough sleep, avoid or limit alcohol use and exercise can go a long way in preventing breast cancer. These actions not only help you feel better, but may also reduce your risk of cancer. In one study from the Women’s Health Initiative, as little as 1¼ to 2½ hours per week of brisk walking reduced a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer by 18 percent.

All women are at risk for breast cancer. The two most important risk factors for breast cancer are being female and getting older. Most breast cancers and associated breast cancer deaths occur in women ages 50 and older. Risk also increases if you have a first-degree relative (mother, daughter, or sister) who has been diagnosed with breast cancer. Knowing your risks, communicating them with your healthcare provider, and following the appropriate screening recommendations is key to early detection.


No matter your age, you should become familiar with how your breasts look and feel. If you notice any changes such as a lump, swelling, dimpling, pain, or redness, see your healthcare provider right away. Finding a breast change does not necessarily mean that you have cancer; your provider will be able to offer you additional information and next steps.



Montana Cancer Control Programs

National Cancer Institute

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Office on Women’s Health