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MSU thinks pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October 8, 2011


The hard-to-miss pink Komen on the Go recreational vehicle will be parked in front of the Mississippi State University Colvard Student Union Wednesday as part of MSU’s participation in breast cancer awareness.
The traveling exhibit features an interactive mobile display for any interested party to experience.
Health and Wellness Educator at the MSU Longest Student Health Center JuLeigh Baker said having the Komen on the Go RV on campus is a great way for students, faculty and the public to become better educated about breast cancer.
“It opens up where ... anybody that wants can go through it, sit at an interactive station and go through a short computer program to learn more about breast cancer,” Baker said. “Everyone who participates in the free interactive program on the RV will receive a drawstring backpack and information about breast self-awareness.”
Nicole Smyle, an employee at the Longest Student Heath Center, participated in the event last year.
“It’s interactive in the way of providing information about symptoms - how to check for symptoms - with a place to click on if you need more information,” Smyle said. “It also gives advice on helping friends and family members who may be affected by the illness cope.”
Baker said the health and wellness office has had some displays around campus educating people about breast cancer all week.
“One was an activity we set up in the Union called ‘Bra-Pong,’ which probably sounds kind of crazy, but it’s just a way for us to get the students attention,” Baker said. “A lot of students aren’t just going to walk up to a display and ask for information about breast cancer.”
The activity involved students trying to throw ping-pong balls into different bra cups for prizes.
“We actually got the idea from a Relay for Life conference we attended,” Baker said.
Baker said campus health center employees aim educate students about breast cancer.
“We try to make sure and educate female students who have a history of breast cancer in the family that their risk is a little higher, so they need to take extra precautions,” Baker said. “We also have a program with the residence halls where we hang information in the female shower stalls with information on breast self-exams.”
In 2011, it is estimated that among U.S. women, there will be 230,480 new cases of invasive breast cancer and there will be 39,520 breast cancer deaths, according to Susan G. Komen for the Cure.
“Most people have the mindset to start mammograms at 40 unless they have a family history of it, but there were new guidelines released last year that actually say that most women can start later than 40 in the absence of a family history,” Baker said. “My understanding is that for women with a family history, mammograms should begin 10 years before the age that the female family member that had breast cancer was diagnosed.”
According to the Mayo Clinic, there has been some widespread confusion over the change.
In 2009, the Mayo Clinic’s website said the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force issued new guidelines pertaining to mammograms.
The USPSTF said that screening should be done every two years beginning at age 50 for women with an average risk of breast cancer, and that screening mammograms before age 50 should not be done routinely and should be based on a woman’s values regarding the risks and benefits of mammography.
The USPSTF’s reasoning behind the change was although women who have screening mammograms die of breast cancer less frequently than woman who do not get mammograms, the benefits of mammograms don’t outweigh the harms for women ages 40-49.
The USPSTF said potential harms may include false-positive results that lead to unneeded breast biopsies and accompanying anxiety and distress.
The guidelines laid out by the USPSTF differ greatly from those followed by the Mayo Clinic and those suggested by the American Cancer Society.
The ACS mammogram guidelines still call for yearly mammogram screening beginning at age 40 for women at an average risk of breast cancer.
The ACS also suggests clinical breast exams about every three years for women in their 20s and 30s and every year for women 40 and over, and breast self-exams are an option for women starting in their 20s.
The American Cancer Society recommends that some women –– because of their family history, a genetic tendency, or certain other factors –– be screened with MRI in addition to mammograms, although that number accounts for less than 2 percent of women.
The Komen on the Go truck is visiting more than 30 communities during its eighth cross-country tour.
For more information, contact Baker at 662-3252141 or

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