Are You Ready for Breast Cancer Awareness Month?

GE Healthcare

October is just around the corner, which means the pink explosion is coming. Yes, that’s right, it’s time for Breast Cancer Awareness Month or, as we like to call it, BCAM.

There’s some evidence that screening mammograms spike in October.[1],[2] Not surprising, given that there is also a spike in online searches for “breast cancer,” and social media posts.[3],[4]

Publicizing BCAM to your patients has never been more important. A recently published study estimated that over the 20 weeks following March 11, 2020, the volume of screening mammograms and diagnostic mammograms fell by 58% and 38% on average; by 99% and 74% just in the week of April 8 to 14. While screenings and diagnostic mammograms have since rebounded, the study authors estimated it would take at least 22 weeks to clear the backlog.[5]

Another study found that 1 million women in the UK missed their mammograms during the height of the pandemic and that about 86,000 women were now living with undetected breast cancer.[6]

Even in the pre-pandemic world nearly half of all eligible women miss at least one recommended mammogram; 30 percent of those 50 and older.[7]

That makes this the ideal time for your practice to gently remind your patients of the importance of screening mammograms.

You might also consider a special message for women of different cultural and language backgrounds. While black women have had lower rates of breast cancer that white women since 1975, the incidence has increased in recent years even as rates have fallen in white women.[8] In addition, black women are more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer before age 60 and more likely to die from breast cancer, regardless of age. In fact, breast cancer deaths are 40 percent higher in black women compared to white women. And even though death rates from breast cancer are dropping, they are falling twice as fast among white women aged 60 to 69 than black women.[9]

Everyone has different cultural and socio-educational backgrounds; therefore you may also consider communicating in more simple terms and in various languages to ensure that you are communicating at the right level, and in the right language, with your patients.

Ways to Get Ready for Breast Cancer Awareness Month:

  • Develop 10 Facts About Breast Cancer and 10 Facts About Mammograms content. This can be emailed to your patient list; printed out to give to patients when they come in; and shared on social media. If you can, personalize it for your area. For instance, what is the rate of breast cancer in your country? The World Cancer Research Fund has that information here.
  • Send BCAM-focused postcards and emails to patients who are due for screening mammograms. Consider the tag line: Don’t Skip.
  • Post social media reminders about screening mammograms in honor of BCAM.
  • Interview a patient (who is willing to share) about finding her breast cancer early thanks to her screening mammogram then write it up for your Facebook page and post links on other social media. If she agrees, consider a video.
  • Watch this testimonial from US hospital administrator, Michele Brands on mammograms
  • Share brochures and posters about breast cancer.
  • Share our patient advocate Cecilia O.’s blog with your patients
  • Read MyMammo to hear from our patient advocate and read different articles on related topics
  • Watch this video on “Don’t Skip” 

Learn more about our innovative mammography portfolio: Senographe Pristina,™ designed by women for women, this suite of products was specifically created to allay women’s fears and anxiety about mammograms and encourage more of them to make an appointment.

 

 



[1] Stat bite: Effect of breast cancer awareness month on mammography use. J Natl Cancer Inst 2005; 97: 1493.

[2] Karabay O, Hasbahceci M, Kadioglu H Impact of breast cancer awareness month on detection of breast cancer in a private hospital. J Int Med Res. 2018 Feb;46(2):619-625.

[3] Glynn RW, Kelly JC, Coffey N, et al. The effect of breast cancer awareness month on internet search activity–a comparison with awareness campaigns for lung and prostate cancer. BMC Cancer 2011; 11: 442.

[4] Thackeray R, Burton SH, Giraud-Carrier C, et al. Using twitter for breast cancer prevention: an analysis of breast cancer awareness month. BMC Cancer 2013; 13:508.

[5] Song H, Bergman A, Chen AT, et al. Disruptions in preventive care: Mammograms during the COVID-19 pandemic. Health Serv Res. 2021;56(1):95-101. doi:10.1111/1475-6773.13596

[6] Breast Cancer Now. Almost one million women in UK miss vital breast screening due to COVID-19. https://breastcancernow.org/about-us/media/press-releases/almost-one-million-women-in-uk-miss-vital-breast-screening-due-covid-19

[7] Elwood M, McNoe B, Smith T, Bandaranayake M, Doyle TC. Once is enough--why some women do not continue to participate in a breast cancer screening programme. N Z Med J. 1998;111(1066):180-183.

[8] Richardson LC, Henley J, Miller J, Massetti G, Thomas CC. Patterns and trends in black-white differences in breast cancer incidence and mortality—United States, 1999–2013. MMWR 2016;65(40):1093–1098.

[9]  Richardson LC, Henley J, Miller J, Massetti G, Thomas CC. Patterns and trends in black-white differences in breast cancer incidence and mortality—United States, 1999–2013. MMWR 2016;65(40):1093–1098.