**Updated December 9, 2020**
Breast Cancer Awareness Month is a time set aside for taking inventory of the advances made in fighting breast cancer, bringing awareness, and engaging in efforts to raise money for, as well as bring comfort to, patients and survivors of this disease.
Breast cancer’s mortality rates are declining due to advances in medical technology used in both detection and treatment. According to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the risk of dying of breast cancer has fallen 39% between the mid-1980s to 2017. However, disparity in access to proper medical care and other factors still weigh heavily on public efforts to fight the disease, and programs like Breast Cancer Awareness Month are key to increasing access to prevention and early detection for women everywhere.
Risk factors for developing breast cancer include increased alcohol consumption and obesity in postmenopausal women. According to NCI research, regular physical activity such as daily walking seems to have a beneficial effect in reducing one’s risk of breast cancer with a lower incidence rate seen among women who exercise than those who live a sedentary lifestyle. There are also some NCI research studies that link smoking and a history thereof to increased risk for developing breast cancer as well. Still, the reality is that anyone can get diagnosed with this disease. Effective treatments and cure exists but it’s critical to catch early. That’s why screening is so important.
In 2018, the American Cancer Society estimates there will be 266,120 new cases of breast cancer of which 63,960 will be carcinoma in situ (CIS). This is the earliest form of breast cancer and is non-invasive. 40,920 women will die from breast cancer in 2018, with a higher mortality rate among black women.
Breast Cancer Awareness Month helps to increase public interest as well as to raise money to support breast cancer research. The American Cancer Society, for example, provide research grants totaling some $60.2 million that’s being used for advancing medical care for breast cancer patients. The Society’s website highlights their role in early breast cancer research and, in particular, the group’s contribution to the development of tamoxifen and Herceptin.
Probably the single most effective tool in a patient’s and doctor’s arsenal in fighting breast cancer is early detection through mammograms. While breast cancer treatments are much more advanced than they were decades ago, nothing provides a better outcome than early detection when treatment is less complicated and a cure is possible. If you need help paying for a mammogram, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has no-cost and sliding-scale programs. Find a free/low-cost breast cancer screening program near you here: http://www.cdc.gov/cancer/nbccedp/.
If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with any type of cancer and need help paying for treatments, co-pays or prescriptions, please see our directory of free national programs that can assist you today. In addition, be sure to check out our directory of free cancer-specific resources just for those who have been diagnosed with breast cancer.