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Colons want a piece of the action of Pinktober, too

About 20 years ago, I learned how the Us Too prostate cancer advocacy group got its name.  One of its founders was admiring breast cancer advocacy efforts, and said or thought, “How about us, too?”  In other words, how about such an advocacy/awareness effort for prostate cancer as well?

Earlier this year, there was a strong backlash against one pancreatic cancer advocacy group’s awareness campaign in which a man says “I wish I had testicular cancer” and a woman says “I wish I had breast cancer.”

Then, just before Pinktober popped up again this year, I got the e-mail below (appears below the dotted line) from the Colon Cancer Alliance.

I will admit to being worn out by recent disease awareness and screening campaigns.  But in this screening stupor, some thoughts still pour out of my muddled mind:

  • Get your own month.  No, don’t.  We’ve had enough. Even a 100-month calendar couldn’t accommodate all of the awareness month proclamations.
  • We can’t be aware of everything all the time.  Remember the Homeland Security five-level color-coded threat level warnings?  How did that work out?
  • Do any of these health care advocacy groups  worry about – or do anything about – awareness overload?
  • Are such efforts going to backfire and cause a broader backlash against awareness campaigns? (See my earlier post today about a TIME op-ed piece and more.)
  • Remember this summer’s ALS Ice Bucket Challenge?  Can you imagine how many health organizations are planning their own “ice bucket” ideas “to capture the viral wave”?
  • How does this end?

There’s undoubtedly a lot of potential good in the work the Colon Cancer Alliance is trying to do.  But is “awareness envy” really the message that will resonate with the public?

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From the Colon Cancer Alliance

Pink-tober Isn’t Just for Breast Health Anymore
‘Cheeky’ Screen This Too! Campaign Encourages Colon Health Too

From the campaign’s website

It’s no secret; the color pink dominates during October. Breast cancer awareness efforts have changed the way the community responds to conversations about breast health and mammograms, so much so that nearly 75% of women report they are on track with the recommended screening guidelines. Despite colon cancer being highly preventable through screening, about 55% of women have been as diligent about getting checked for this disease. In fact, colon cancer is the third deadliest cancer for females, with an estimated 24,000 women dying from this disease every year. The Screen This Too! campaign, created by the Colon Cancer Alliance, expands the awareness and prevention conversation. Simple in concept, broad in scope – this campaign encourages you to not only think pink during October, but to consider your colon too.

The link between breast and colon cancer is deeper than some may think. According to the National Cancer Institute, studies show breast cancer patients have a 20% to 80% increased risk of colon cancer compared to the general population.

“Just like breast exams, colon cancer screenings can save your life,” says Jasmine Greenamyer, COO at the Colon Cancer Alliance. “This is not an “old man’s disease” as some may think. Studies show men and women are diagnosed at nearly equal rates. Don’t put it off – when you head to the doctor for your annual checkup, be sure to tell your medical team to Screen This Too!”

The Colon Cancer Alliance is asking the community to help boost awareness during October by getting checked and getting involved. Screen This Too! pins, underwear and unisex shirts are available for purchase at ccalliance.org. The group is also encouraging people to take this campaign viral by changing Facebook photos to the Screen This Too! image, sharing photos of themselves wearing the shirt on the Colon Cancer Alliance Facebook page and downloading the free Screen This Too! pin-up kit.

“It is imperative that the conversation about breast cancer and colon cancer continues,” Greenamyer concluded. “The message to patients needs to be to take charge of your overall health. Preventive screenings can save your life.”

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