While most recognize the color pink in October for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, this October and November marks the second annual Tennessee Pink and Pearl Campaign promoting both breast and lung cancer awareness. The addition of the pearl color represents the ribbon for lung cancer awareness, which is observed in November. While breast cancer is the most common cancer in female Tennesseans, lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths among both men and women.
Routine cancer screenings continue to be incredibly important. It is estimated that nationally over 3.9 million breast cancer screenings have been missed due to the pandemic. Providers encourage all eligible individuals to attend routine check-ups, including routine cancer screenings. With fewer screenings, there are fewer diagnoses of breast cancer, which may result in some cancers being diagnosed at later stages with poor prognoses.
“Routine health screenings are an important part in a person’s health care journey,” said Tennessee Department of Health Commissioner Lisa Piercey, MD, MBA, FAAP. “With proper screening and interventions, we can save more lives and curb the rising number of breast and lung cancer deaths in our state. The Tennessee Pink and Pearl Campaign raises awareness of these treatable conditions and reminds us that we all have a role to play – whether it is our own screening or encouraging that of a friend or family member.”
If your financial situation has changed due to COVID-19, you may qualify for free breast cancer screenings through the Tennessee Breast and Cervical Screening Program (TBSCP). TBCSP provides breast and cervical screening services to uninsured and underinsured women and diagnostic testing for qualifying men and women.
Learn more about the program at https://www.tn.gov/health/health-program-areas/fhw/rwh/tbcsp.html or contact your local health department for more information.
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Breast Screening Recommendations (Optional)
The current United States Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) guidelines recommend women begin regular mammogram screenings at the age of 50. Depending on risk factors, some women may need to begin screening at an earlier age.
Lung Screening Recommendations (Optional)
The USPSTF recommends annual screening for lung cancer in adults ages 50 to 80 who have a 20 pack-year smoking history and currently smoke or have quit smoking within the past 15 years.
While both breast and lung cancer impact individuals of all races and ethnicities, they are among many diseases that disproportionately affect minority populations. For both types of cancer, black men and women are more likely than their white counterparts to be diagnosed in later stages, and blacks are also more likely to die from these diseases. Data also indicates that black women and men are diagnosed with more aggressive subtypes of these cancers than their white counterparts.
“In both breast and lung cancer, screening often is imperative to an early diagnosis and optimizing the chance of a better prognosis,” said Director of the Office of Minority Health and Disparities Elimination Monique Anthony, MPH, CHES. “As COVID-19 continues to amplify these inequities on vulnerable populations, including lack of quality care, the availability and cost of diagnostics and follow up care, bias, unfair policies and practices in health care. TDH is committed to reducing disparities and advancing health equity by increasing access to cancer screenings, conducting cancer prevention education and outreach strategies, and encouraging the inclusion of minorities in clinical trials.”
It is important to talk to your provider about your risk factors and determine if screening is right for you. For more information, visit https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/dcpc/resources/features/breastcancerawareness/index.htm for breast cancer and https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/lung/basic_info/ for lung cancer.
Pink and Pearl Day
To recognize this campaign, Friday, November 5th will be Pink and Pearl Day. Please support this campaign and bring awareness to both breast and lung cancer by wearing pink and pearl. Pictures posted to social media are appreciated, using the campaign hashtags #TNPinkandPearl and #MyPinkandPearlWhy.
The mission of the Tennessee Department of Health is to protect, promote and improve the health and prosperity of people in Tennessee. Learn more about TDH services and programs at www.tn.gov/health.