Fruit Takes on New Meaning for October

Norris Cotton Cancer Center (NCCC) has put a yellow tint on its October breast cancer awareness efforts, a month usually draped in the color pink.

Northern New England's only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center has equipped its 16 New Hampshire and Vermont locations with posters and pamphlets that use fruit as a teaching aid.

"We want women to be educated, empowered, and healthy," said Telisa Stewart, MPH, DrPH,  NCCC director of community education and prevention. "Women need to know when to take action and what steps to take." The aim of these awareness materials is to convince women of all income and education levels about the importance of monitoring breast health.

The NCCC breast cancer campaign includes a poster that depicts a dozen lemons in an egg carton, each digitally manipulated to illustrate a possible sign of breast cancer, such as dimpling, inflammation, or indentation, since lumps are not the only signs of breast cancer, as shown below.

Breast cancer campaign depicting lemons in an egg carton

Another poster features a dissected lemon as the anatomy of the breast and compares the breast's features to soft beans and peas while pointing out: a cancerous lump is often hard and immovable like a lemon seed, as shown below.

Breast Cancer Lemons

The detailed graphics used in the NCCC campaign were developed by a London-based graphic designer Corrine Beaumont, who earned her PhD in graphic design perfecting and testing educational images that can be used in any country or any language through Worldwide Breast Cancer.

When detected at its earliest stages, 98 percent of women survive breast cancer. "The sooner you spot it— the easier it is to cure," said Kari Rosenkranz, MD, medical director, comprehensive breast program. Rosenkranz, a leading breast surgeon in NH, says spotting breast cancer early gives women better treatment options. "At the earliest stage, treatment is often less severe and less aggressive."

Doctors recommend regular breast cancer screening for women 50-69 years old who have no signs, symptoms, or history of breast problems. Women with a family history of breast cancer or other risk factors may be screened even younger than 50.

Breast cancer screening, which usually relies on mammography, is considered safe and effective by leading organizations. It does, however, have a few drawbacks such as false positives or a missed diagnosis.

Deciding to have a screening test is a personal decision most women make after talking with a health care provider. Dartmouth-Hitchcock offers an on-line tool called "When Should I Start Having Mammograms." It helps women consider the facts before they sit down to talk to their health care provider.

If a woman does not have a regular health care provider or health insurance, programs in each state can help qualified individuals receive free screenings in their local community. In New Hampshire call 1-800-852-3345 x 4931. In Vermont, call 1-800-508-2222. Elsewhere call 2-1-1.

October 01, 2012