Breast cancer is a life-threatening disease that affects millions of women worldwide. It is the second most common cancer among women, and one in seven women will develop invasive breast cancer during their lifetime. October is recognized as Breast Cancer Awareness Month; the goal is to increase awareness of its impact on countless lives and raise funds to support life-saving research. Support is shown worldwide through various avenues, and none go unnoticed.
Breast Cancer Awareness Month
Breast Cancer Awareness Month began in 1985 when the American Cancer Society and the pharmaceutical division of Imperial Industries (now AstraZeneca) collaborated to promote mammography as the most effective weapon when dealing with breast cancer. Mammography is a technique that uses X-rays to diagnose and locate tumors. Its purpose was to stress the overall importance of getting screened.
The most commonly used awareness tool, as most people know, is the iconic pink ribbon. The ribbon was introduced in 1992 at the Komen New York City Race for the Cure. It was passed out to the participants, but it stems from yellow ribbons tied around trees by Penne Laingen in her front yard as a symbol of her desire to see her husband (Bruce Laingen) once more, who was held hostage in Iran in 1979. Within the following years, this trend grew exponentially; several charitable organizations had ribbons with unique colors representing their cause.
Screening for Breast Cancer
The most critical component of the successful treatment of breast cancer is, by far, early detection. As mentioned before, mammography is still, to this day, the best tool to do so. The American Cancer Society recommends that women between the ages of 20-39 should be screened once every three years, over 40 should be screened once a year. Once women reach 55 or older, they can move to one every other year. In addition to screenings, women should perform regular breast self-exams. This is a simple and effective way to detect any changes or abnormalities in their breasts, and they should consult their healthcare provider if they notice any.
Breast Cancer Risk Factors
Certain factors can increase a person’s risk of developing breast cancer; these include:
- Age: The risk of breast cancer increases as a person ages.
- Gender: Breast cancer is more common in women than in men.
- Family History: Women with a family history of breast cancer are likelier to develop the disease.
- Lifestyle Factors: Obesity, physical inactivity, and alcohol consumption can increase a person’s risk of breast cancer.
Breast Cancer Prevention
While there is no sure way to prevent breast cancer, there are several steps individuals can take to reduce their risk. These include:
- Maintaining a healthy body weight.
- Regular exercise
- Breastfeeding: Women who breastfeed their babies may have a lower risk of developing the disease.
- Limiting alcohol consumption.
Once cancer has been detected, there are several different treatment options available. The type of treatment will depend on the stage of cancer, the person’s age/ overall health, and other determining factors. Some treatment options include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, and targeted therapy.
Breast Cancer Awareness Month allows people and organizations to support those deeply affected. Every year, organizations create new and improved ways to contribute uniquely. Some of those could include donating to one of the larger charities, participating in a breast cancer walk or run, or hosting a fundraiser. This month, people worldwide gather to increase public knowledge and understanding of breast cancer.
The campaign also allows survivors and their families to share their stories and experiences, giving hope and inspiration to others. By continuing to show support and investing in prevention efforts, we can significantly reduce breast cancer incidence and mortality rates globally. Contact us online to learn more about who we are and why we care.