/ Key Opinion Leaders / Santa Barbara, CA , --
Aside from skin cancers, the most common type in women is breast cancer (although the condition can affect men, too). Common breast cancer symptoms include breast pain, breast lumps, swelling, and soreness. The prognosis for breast cancer patients has improved over the years, thanks to technological advancements, medical research, and raised awareness through initiatives like Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Breast Cancer Awareness Month is an annual campaign in October that helps raise awareness about breast cancer. People worldwide get involved yearly, wearing pink ribbons, holding ‘Pink’ parties, and raising money for breast cancer charities. The initiative’s primary goal is simple: encouraging more women to undergo breast cancer screenings because early diagnosis equals a better prognosis.
The History of Breast Cancer Awareness Month
Breast Cancer Awareness Month started in October 1985 when the American Cancer Society and Imperial Chemical Industries partnered to promote mammograms. In 1992, the pink ribbon became its symbol. Even now, the symbolic pink ribbon supports breast cancer awareness and research.
Raising awareness now is just as important as it was in 1985. The more people are aware of breast cancer, the more women get screenings, which means a higher chance of an earlier diagnosis. The latter is crucial, considering the five-year breast cancer survival rate is 99% when doctors detect cancer cells early.
What Does Breast Cancer Awareness Do?
The primary goal of Breast Cancer Awareness Month is, as its name suggests, to raise awareness of breast cancer. Organizations and individuals worldwide participate, striving to increase awareness of the disease and encourage women to obtain breast screenings for earlier diagnosis and, thus, better prognosis.
Take the National Breast Cancer Foundation as a perfect example of a group leading the way in Breast Cancer Awareness Month; over the years, their mission has been to inspire and help women understand breast cancer and undertake screenings. The organization offers free mammograms to women throughout the United States to achieve this goal. This contribution means all US women can get screened without worrying about the cost – a factor that prevents many from seeking medical screening.
Another way organizations have helped spread awareness and promote breast screenings is through social media. For instance, Keep a Breast Foundation challenged its supporters to post selfies with the hashtag #CHECKYOURSELFIE. This spreading of awareness on social media means young people are also more likely to discover the campaign.
While older age is a breast cancer risk factor, 9% of breast cancer cases are women under 45. Therefore, it is important for women of all ages to be aware of the disease, be able to identify common symptoms, and know the risk factors.
Men’s Breast Cancer Awareness Week
It is a myth that men cannot get breast cancer; although the disease is rarer in males, they can develop breast cancer. Scientists expect around 530 male deaths from breast cancer in 2022. As men can also get the condition, raising awareness among the male population has become a focal point in recent years.
The awareness campaign Men’s Breast Cancer Awareness Week runs from October 17 to 23 every year during the third week of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Throughout this time, supporters encourage men to educate themselves on breast cancer, see their doctor if they notice any signs or symptoms, and attend screenings.
The community leaders Real Men Wear Pink strongly influence Men’s Breast Cancer Awareness Week. They raise money, research, and educate men about male breast cancer. They also host a support line for anyone who wishes to talk or requires support.
Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day
In addition to Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day takes place on October 13 annually. The purpose of this day is to raise awareness of metastatic breast cancer, which grows from the breast and spreads to other areas of the body. These areas might include the lungs, brain, or bones.
Unfortunately, this type of cancer has a higher mortality rate than other breast cancers. However, Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day is about educating the public about this type of breast cancer; the more awareness, the higher the chances of earlier detection – and the better the survival rate.
The Emotional Effects of Breast Cancer
The impact of breast cancer on patients is mainly physical – but that’s not the only way patients suffer. After a diagnosis, patients may feel distressed, anxious, and depressed. The mental health implications can be severe in many cases.
Thankfully, community support for patients and their loved ones. Breast cancer charities like breastcancer.org have thousands of members posting in online forums, offering advice, support, and even virtual meetups. This social camaraderie through online outlets can help breast cancer patients access emotional support and improve their well-being.
Breast Cancer Research and Developments
Breast Cancer Awareness Month has accelerated advancements in detecting and treating the disease. Diagnostic procedures and treatments are more sophisticated and targeted than ever, with further improvements expected as research continues.
Spearheading this research, leading breast cancer developments, and boosting awareness of the condition are key researchers of the modern day, some of whom include:
The key research organization SOLTI uses academics, clinical research, and clinical trials to educate and improve patient prognosis. Its vast networks allow an innovative analysis of unanswered questions surrounding breast cancer. With its findings, the future for breast cancer patients is brighter.
Elaine A Lehane
Dr. Elaine A Lehane works at the University College Cork in Ireland. As a co-author of a study into health literacy and the perception of risk, she looked into the accuracy of risk perception of women attending breast cancer clinics. This research also explored the relationship between risk perception accuracy and health literacy.
Dr. Lehane was also a contributing author in the publication, ‘Cancer and breast cancer awareness interventions in an intellectual disability context: A review of the literature.’ This study notes that women with an intellectual disability (ID) often present with later-stage breast cancers, despite carrying the same risk of developing the disease as the general population. As such, she studied whether there is a need to create a breast cancer awareness intervention for women with ID.
Adam C McGechan
Another key researcher is Adam C McGechan, whose work explores the identification of breast cancer. In his publication, ‘Breast Cancer,’ he writes about the importance of mammography and how it detects breast cancer much earlier in women. Knowing the significance of mammography, doctors can push for more mammograms over breast examinations.
Technological Advancements in Breast Cancer Diagnosis
Many technical advancements in the medical field have helped improve breast cancer detection, including 3-D mammography. Scientists hope this newer technology can detect breast cancer cells earlier than 2-D mammograms – specifically, in asymptomatic women. When early diagnosis results in an improved prognosis, this technology is ground-breaking.
Research and technological advancements have significantly altered breast cancer survival rates. For example, from 1989 to 2015, death rates decreased by 39%. This declining breast cancer mortality rate suggests that research and technology are crucial to patients. Moreover, it shows that all the donations to breast cancer charities and global awareness campaigns help save lives.
How to Support Breast Cancer Awareness
Breast cancer affects people all over the globe. Whether yourself or a loved one, receiving a diagnosis can feel like the world shatters when hearing the word ‘cancer.’
Anyone that breast cancer affects understands the physical and mental pain the disease can cause. Due to the devastation that the condition forces sufferers to endure, many people worldwide wish to help those with breast cancer and their loved ones while promoting early detection and prevention and supporting research.
To help raise breast cancer awareness, improve the outcome for patients, and support future research, here are a few ways the public can help:
Donate to Breast Cancer Charities
Breast Cancer Awareness Day, Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day, and Men’s Breast Cancer Awareness Week all have excellent charities supporting their cause. Donating is a fantastic way to make a difference that benefits breast cancer patients in the present and the future.
Participate in Fundraisers
Another way to raise money is through fundraising. Bake sales, walkathons, awareness events, and other creative community ideas are great ways to bring breast cancer to the forefront of the public’s mind and gather funds for charitable causes.
Perform a Breast Exam and Schedule a Mammogram
If you do nothing else this Breast Cancer Awareness Month, perform a breast exam and schedule a mammogram. It could be the difference between a long and short life for many people.
Improving patient outlook is the campaign’s goal. Every piece of research, every donation, and every breast exam or screening that leads to an earlier diagnosis paves the way for a positive prognosis for breast cancer patients. Whether you donate money or your time or encourage a loved one to schedule a mammogram, your efforts – no matter how small – make a difference.