PD Editorial: Raising awareness of breast cancer and much more

So is it all too much? The pink license plates. The pink baseball bats in Major League Baseball and the pink cleats and jerseys in National Football League games? There are even pink sweatbands and pink ribbon nose rings available on the internet.

The intent of all of these items, of course, is to raise awareness of breast cancer, the benefit of screening and early detection and to encourage donations for research.

But is it possible to raise more awareness?

The short answer, of course, is yes. While the survival rates, as noted in today’s stories, are up along with treatment opportunities, the risks remain high. According to the National Cancer Institute, despite all the progress made to date in research and treatment, a woman born today in the U.S. has about a 1 in 8 chance of being diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. The American Cancer Society estimates that during the course of this year, more than 250,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer. Some 2,400 men will as well. If averages hold true, more than 40,000 of these individuals will die from the disease.

Breast cancer remains the second-leading cause of cancer death among women after lung cancer.

Nonetheless, this national pink-out for the month of October has its share of critics, including the “Think before you Pink” campaign by Breast Cancer Action, which warns consumers of the many pink products being sold that, despite appearances, provide no support for cancer research.

But these are problems due primarily to the campaign’s success over the past 25 years, since Alexandra Penney, editor of Self magazine, while putting together the publication’s 1992 National Breast Cancer Awareness Month issue, first used a pink ribbon as a symbol for the cause. Since then, the campaign has helped raise hundreds of millions of dollars for research and, better still, raise awareness of the need for regular checkups, screenings and new lifestyle habits that have helped save an untold number of lives. Here’s the number that really stands out. At the moment, there are more than 3.1 million breast cancer survivors in the United States. This includes women and men who are still being treated.

That’s a number that should have everyone in the pink.

For more information, including information about risk factors, go to

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