What is breast cancer awareness?

Breast cancer awareness is a serious international effort to increase awareness about breast cancer in the minds of people. This is done by making people aware of the symptoms, risk factors, treatments, and prognosis of breast cancer. The importance of early breast cancer detection is emphatically stressed. It also aims to reduce the social stigma that is associated with this disease.

Why breast cancer awareness is important?

The main reason for making the public aware of breast cancer is to increase cure rates and prevent mortality. Presently, breast cancer is the second leading cause of death among women worldwide affecting 1 out of 8 women.

It has no cure, which is why early detection and prompt treatment become important to increase chances of cure and long survival.

Breast cancer awareness makes people aware of the symptoms of breast cancer so that they can seek early medical treatment after early diagnosis before the cancer spreads. This improves the survival rate, assures a complete cure and a full life.

What is its aim?

The aim of breast cancer awareness from the beginning has been to promote mammography as the most effective weapon to detect breast cancer early and fight it.

By making people aware, the people associated with this program hope that the public will realize the importance of going in for breast screening regularly for an early diagnosis and a better survival rate.

People who advocate breast awareness also help raise funds for research with the hope that a reliable and permanent cure is found.

How is breast cancer awareness spread?

Campaigns are organized periodically to increase awareness. Media coverage for breast cancer is the maximum amongst all cancers though more women die of lung cancer than breast cancer. Governments in many countries help and contribute significantly to this program.

Breast cancer walk is held by many organizations with one purpose of uniting the people to put an end to breast cancer.

Pink lights light up the street, people wear pink clothes, hoardings with messages in pink are seen, rallies and bicycle rides with pink-dressed people are organized to remind people of the importance of mammogram screening.

Who is Susan G Komen

Susan Goodman Komen was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 33 years.  She died three years later in 1980. Her younger sister Nancy Goodman Brinker felt that her prognosis would have been better if the cancer was detected earlier. She made a promise to her dying sister that she would do everything to end breast cancer.

She started the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation in 1982. In 2007, the name was changed to Susan G. Komen for the Cure and trademarked a new logo which was the pink ribbon. The pink ribbon resembles a runner in motion and symbolizes Komen’s signature for the Race for The Cure event. This event is the largest fundraising event for breast cancer education and research.

When is breast cancer awareness month?

The month of October every year is recognized as breast cancer awareness month. Campaigns are organized during this month and these are supported by most governments, breast cancer survivors, and the media. There is a national effort to promote mammograms as breast screening procedures to facilitate early diagnosis.

Certain events concerning celebrities too help to spread awareness. 1974 and 1987 saw significant spikes as these years coincided with the announcements of breast cancer of first ladies Betty Ford and Nancy Reagan.

The results were seen in the month of November when the incidence of mammograms saw a spike. Now due to the spread of awareness, it is not just November that sees extra mammograms being conducted. There is a uniform spread all across the year which is indeed a good thing. Not only that but there has been a significant increase in the number of women who regularly undergo mammogram screening.

Why is October the breast cancer awareness month?

The reason for October being the breast cancer awareness month seems to be purely historical. It was in the month of October of 1983 that the Race for the Cure was first held in Dallas, Texas, in which 800 people participated.

Breast cancer awareness day

There does not seem to be a breast cancer awareness day as such and it varies. Searches on google failed to give any definite result, but an answer on ask.com mentions it as the 4th Monday of October.

The Carleton University Ravens (Canada) host this day on Saturday, Jan. 29, in support of the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation.

Similarly, The SAAS Foundation, NYC, held the Annual Breast Awareness Day on the 2nd of October in 2010. In 2011, it held the day on 22nd October.

Merchandise

Pink is the feminine color and the color of breast cancer awareness is pink. Sales of breast cancer awareness ribbons, bracelets, shirts, and breast cancer awareness waistbands (all pink in color) contribute to its fund.

Manufacturers of these products honor their commitment to contribute to research and to facilitate free mammograms. These products are worn to remind people of the necessity to undergo breast cancer screening.

Organizations

There are quite a few organizations active in spreading breast cancer awareness and garnering support. Besides educating the public, they donate millions of dollars for research and free screenings and treatments. To name a few:

  • Susan G. Komen for the Cure is the largest organization
  • National Breast Cancer Coalition
  • Breast cancer Action
  • National Breast Cancer Organization

Tips for breast cancer prevention

  • Stay at a healthy weight
  • Eat a healthy low-fat diet rich in fruits and vegetables, low in refined carbohydrates, and fatty foods. Eat lean protein such as fish or chicken without skin and avoid or eat less red meat. Eat whole grains. Choose vegetable oils.
  • Avoid menopausal hormone therapy as it increases the risk for breast cancer. If you must take hormones for your menopausal symptoms, take estrogen alone and avoid progesterone. Do not take for more than three years.
  • Breast-feed your babies preferably for at least one year
  • Early detection through breast cancer screening offers protection against breast cancer. Screening includes breast self-examination, clinical examination by the doctor, and mammography every year after the age of 40 years
  • Exercise regularly. It is proven to prevent cancer.
  • Learn to manage stress
  • Avoid smoking & excessive alcohol consumption

Breast cancer awareness campaign

Raising awareness of this disease by educating the population of its signs and symptoms forms an important part of its breast cancer campaign.

This campaign focuses on the importance of becoming aware of any abnormal changes to your breasts such as the development of lumps, dimpled skin, inverted nipples, or a discharge from your nipples. These could be signs of cancer.

See your doctor if you notice any of these unusual symptoms.  Nine out of ten women survive breast cancer if it is diagnosed and treated early.

The campaign includes creating awareness through television, radio, press, and online advertising.


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