Columns for The Lufkin News

Empowered – and Inundated – by Pink

Posted Oct 04, 2016 by Sidney C. Roberts, MD, FACR

There is a minor malady that comes around every season. It is characterized by a drop in energy, glazed eyes, and a strong desire just to sit and do nothing. This condition usually strikes around mid-October and peaks about the end of the month. Luckily, it doesn’t long. After a week or two of wearing dark clothes and drinking Standpipe coffee, it resolves completely with no lasting effects. I call it pink fatigue.

October has barely begun and I have already been interviewed both for the City Hall Update about the upcoming Power of Pink! celebrations in Lufkin and Livingston and by KICKS 105 about breast cancer for their website. I have an on-air interview with Danny Merrell this morning. October 18th is the 5thannual Power of Pink! event in Livingston, and October 20th is 24thannual Power of Pink! in Lufkin. Nearly 500 women are expected in Livingston, and an incredible 800 women in Lufkin. And even though it is not a breast cancer-specific event, the American Cancer Society’s amazing Cattle Baron’s Gala is October 15th. October is a busy – and very pink – month!

I jest about getting pink fatigue, but I hope it never, ever happens. We cannot tire of fighting this disease. Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women (246,660 new cases in the US anticipated this year) and the second most common cause of cancer death in women (40, 450 deaths predicted in 2016). Only lung cancer kills more women. The good news is that the cure rate for breast cancer that is caught early is really quite high. Today, most cases (61%) are diagnosed at a localized stage (no spread to lymph nodes, nearby structures, or other locations outside the breast), for which the 5-year survival is a stunning 99%.

The American Cancer Society reports that from 2003 to 2012, breast cancer death rates decreased by 1.9% per year in white women and by 1.4% per year in black women. Overall, breast cancer death rates declined by 36% from 1989 to 2012 due to improvements in early detection and treatment, translating to the avoidance of approximately 249,000 breast cancer deaths. That is truly remarkable!

But we must not succumb to pink fatigue until ALL women who need mammograms are getting them. Our minority communities, for example, still fall behind when it comes to getting mammograms and other screening tests.

The American Cancer Society recommends that women at average risk of developing breast cancer should have the choice to start annual breast cancer screening with mammograms beginning age 40 to 44. Women age 45 to 54 should get mammograms every year. Women age 55 and older should switch to mammograms every 2 years, or have the choice to continue yearly screening. Always, the risks of screening as well as the potential benefits should be considered.

These guidelines are for women at average risk for breast cancer. Women with a personal history of breast cancer, a family history of breast cancer, a genetic mutation known to increase risk of breast cancer (such as BRCA), and women who had radiation therapy to the chest before the age of 30 are at higher risk for breast cancer, not average-risk, and should talk to their doctor about appropriate screening. If in doubt, or you just can’t remember, get a mammogram every year. It is just easier that way.

Please don’t get pink fatigue! Support cancer research for prevention, early detection, and curative treatment for all by participating in something pink this month. Contact Lindsey Mott at 639-7613 for tickets to Power of Pink! Contact the American Cancer Society at 634-2940 for tickets to Cattle Baron’s Gala! Or go online to www.CHIStLukesHealthMemorial.organd click the link to purchase a pink flamingo for $15. Put it in your yard or at your office to show support for breast cancer awareness. All flamingo proceeds go to support patients in need right here at the Temple Cancer Center. Go pink! #BC4TheBirds

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Meet Our Team

Sidney C. Roberts, MD, FACR

Sidney C. Roberts, MD, FACR

Radiation Oncologist

Madelene Collier, RN, OCN

Madelene Collier, RN, OCN

Radiation Oncology Nurse

Jewel Randle, RT (R)(T)

Jewel Randle, RT (R)(T)

Lead Radiation Therapist

Aimee Salas, RT (T)

Aimee Salas, RT (T)

Radiation Therapist

Josh Yarbrough, RT (R)(CT)(T)

Josh Yarbrough, RT (R)(CT)(T)

Radiation Therapist

Julie McClain, RT (R)(T)

Julie McClain, RT (R)(T)

Dosimetrist

Linda Miller, MS

Linda Miller, MS

Medical Radiation Physicist

Evelyn Leach

Evelyn Leach

Receptionist