Take heed

October 25, 2013

The Bladen Journal hasn’t been published in pink this month, but there has been plenty of pink elsewhere during this month, which is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and we didn’t want it to slip away without an important reminder — one that is hopeful.

Breast cancer is no longer the killer that it once was, and early detection gives physicians an upper hand in the battle.

Only a few decades ago, breast cancer was tantamount to a death sentence for a woman; now the disease kills only one out of every 35 American women diagnosed with it. Additionally, medicine has advanced so treatment no longer leaves the physical scars that women fear, which is one reason so many have historically skipped on the mammogram, preferring not knowing to knowing.

There really aren’t any good reasons for women 40 and older not to have regular mammograms. In this instance, knowledge truly is power. So if you are a woman who should be having a regular mammogram, do so, and if you have a loved one who should be having a regular mammogram, but doesn’t, then encourage her to do so.

Before we end this, we thought that today’s space might serve a dual purpose.

National Prostate Awareness Month, which was September, doesn’t garner the same attention as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but the percentage of men affected by prostate cancer is higher than the percentage of women affected by breast cancer , and the diseases kill in the same numbers. They share something else: Early detection is the best defense.

Prostate cancer is the second-deadliest cancer for men in this country, behind only lung cancer . Each year in the United States, about a quarter-million men are diagnosed with the disease, and about 34,000 of them will die from it.

Prostate cancer mostly affects men older than 50.

Too many men, because of the unpleasantness of prostate cancer exams, aren’t diligent about having regular screenings for the disease. Prostate cancer does little to announce its arrival. A man can suffer with the disease for an extended period of time before symptoms begin to appear. When they do, they are restricted to urination — weak stream, inability to urinate, frequent urination, burning sensation during urination and blood in the urine.

Our message today is simply to remind our readers about the frequency of breast cancer and prostate cancer , their ability to kill, the importance of screenings — and the likelihood of successful treatment if detected in time, and the hope for a long and normal life that follows.