Every year, one in every eight women in the United States will experience breast cancer. Around the world, 2.3 million women will have breast cancer every year. Everyone knows how damaging and dangerous breast cancer can be, but far less people are aware of and educated about preventive measures. In order to raise this awareness, October has been Breast Cancer Awareness Month since 1985.
Understanding the Facts
According to breastcancer.org, Breast Cancer Awareness Month features a variety of different campaigns and programs to raise awareness, conducted by everyone from advocacy groups to major retailers. Overall, the goals are said to be support for those diagnosed with breast cancer, education about risk factors, education about the need for regular screenings, and fundraising for research on breast cancer.
As a part of this, Breast Cancer Awareness Month puts the spotlight on lesser known parts of Breast Cancer, such as metastatic breast cancer (spreading of the cancer to other parts of the body, which affects 30% of those diagnosed with breast cancer). Since 2021, October 17-23 has been acknowledged as Men's Breast Cancer Awareness Week, to acknowledge the thousands of American men diagnosed with breast cancer every year. While significantly less likely than breast cancer in women, it is entirely possible for men to get breast cancer, and it takes the lives of hundreds of men in the US every year.
Know the Risks
As a part of their mission to raise awareness, breastcancer.org shared some important info about breast cancer. In 2022, it is estimated that 43,250 women and 530 men in the US will die from cancer. While younger individuals can have breast cancer, the risk increases as one ages, and while black women are less likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer, they are more likely to die from the disease, making testing and prevention even more important.
Being a woman and aging are the two greatest risk factors for breast cancer, but there are other factors, such as smoking, exercising infrequently, and alcohol consumption. As with many illnesses, the best bet for managing and treating breast cancer is catching it early, making mammograms key. It is recommended for at-risk women (above age 50) receive a mammogram every 2 years.
This October, go beyond the pink ribbon, and educate yourself about breast cancer. If you are at risk, consider getting screened yourself, and encourage at risk loved ones to do the same. To learn more, visit here.