Renee Ross, Dr. Otis Brawley from the American Cancer Society, and Leticia Barr

Last year I had the pleasure of introducing Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer and executive vice president of the American Cancer Society (ACS) at Blogalicious, a social media conference. Dr. Brawley’s October keynote came during a month where the world turns pink in honor of breast cancer, but his speech addressed more than just breast cancer as he talked about cancer prevention, early detection, and quality treatment through cancer research and education.

In his keynote, Dr. Brawley said that 765,870 cancer deaths were averted between 1991-2006.  It’s estimated that 57,000 Americans didn’t die of breast cancer.  This was due to screening, early detection, and aggressive treatment.  It’s also estimated that the prevalence of mammogram screening was 45-50% where as the prevalence now is 60%.  If all women were screened and got good treatment, 450,000 women would still die over the next 10 years with our current screening and treatment technologies.

“Mammography sucks…It isn’t the greatest test.  We need to support a scientific study to find a better test…We need something that is much better…They should still be used but they need to get better. Find better tests, support better treatment,” said Dr. Brawley.

He also encouraged women to be self aware and know their bodies well enough to know to go to their doctor when they find something that needs to be evaluated.

While breast cancer may be on many people’s minds during October, Dr. Brawley didn’t limit his speech to breast cancer.  He talked about research and prevention for cervical cancer and prostate cancer and concluded by urging people to get involved and spread the word through the American Cancer Society’s social media campaigns.

Having turned 100 last year, American Cancer Society celebrated by embracing social media to mobilize the online community to help others stay well and get well, find cures, and fight back.  ACS launched that includes buttons to post on websites and a blog whose focus is on everything “birthday”, from party tips to celebrity birthdays.

The site allows users to send individual or group birthday wish via custom e-cards featuring artwork generously donated by famous artists like Maurice Sendak and Eric Carle while adding happy birthday sung by famous musicians such as Justin Bieber, Aaron Neville, Fitz and the Tantrums, Keith Urban, DEVO, and many others.  The site also allows users to send a musician phone call.

While you can wear pink and buy pink products (remember that very little money actually goes towards cancer research), it is more effective to donate to trusted organizations like the American Cancer Society where all funds support the mission of saving lives and eliminating the suffering from cancer.

If you want to mobilize friends to spread awareness about cancer prevention, early detection, and quality treatment through cancer research and education, visit these American Cancer Society sites:

  • Choose You Movement encourages women to commit to put their health first.
  • More Birthdays Movement helps people stay well (prevent cancer), get well (help for cancer patients), find cures (research and fundraising) and fight back (advocacy).
  • Volunteer and access accurate information about cancer at

Also, make a call to your Senator to ask the government to provide better funding for cancer research.

Leticia Barr is a member of the American Cancer Society’s Blogger Advisory Council, blogs at Tech Savvy Mama, and can be found on Twitter @TechSavvyMama.