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Breast Cancer Awareness Month: ‘Become Involved’

Breast Cancer Awareness Month: ‘Become Involved’

Written by Dr. Lakshmi Venkataraman, MD
Article Reviewed by 
The Medindia Medical Review Team on October 8, 2018 at 4:58 PM
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  • Breast cancer awareness month is observed worldwide in October to create awareness about the early diagnosis of breast cancer and raise funds for breast cancer research
  • Breast cancer cannot be prevented, but the best chance of a cure is only through early diagnosis and treatment
  • Breast cancer is a major cause of cancer-related death in women worldwide; over 1.4 million new cases are diagnosed every year with nearly half a million deaths

The very first National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (NBCAM) was established in October 1985 by the American Cancer Society to create and raise awareness about breast cancer and to reduce related deaths. The main focus of the campaign is to underscore the importance of doing regular self-breast examinations and mammography (x-ray of the breasts) by women above 30 years for early detection and treatment.

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Breast Cancer Awareness Month: ‘Become Involved’

Breast Cancer Awareness Month aims to educate the general population especially women about the warning signs of breast cancer and the need to seek urgent medical attention, if they occur.

Pink Ribbon - Global Symbol of Breast Cancer Awareness

The color pink came to be first associated with breast cancer by the Susan Komen Foundation in 1991, when they handed out pink masks to survivors of breast cancer who took part in the "Race for Cure" in New York city.

With the founding of the Breast Cancer Research Foundation in 1993, the pink ribbon has become a widely recognized symbol of breast cancer awareness worldwide and has been used by several organizations and individuals in their awareness campaigns.

What We can Do to Raise Breast Cancer Awareness

As individuals, we too can become involved and raise awareness about breast cancer and the importance of early diagnosis using the pink ribbon as the symbol of breast cancer awareness
  • Use social media such as Facebook and Twitter to widely share inspiring stories and educative messages about breast cancer along with the pink ribbon symbol
  • Cancer survivors can share their stories on social media, mass media or the visual media to inspire cancer affected women and their families to be hopeful and positive
  • Workplaces can be decorated in pink and employees can choose to dress in pink or sport the pink ribbon on their dress to raise awareness about breast cancer
  • Prominent buildings in the community can be lit up in pink and display breast cancer awareness messages to get maximum reach among the population
  • Breast cancer awareness leaflets and pink ribbons can be distributed at prominent public places such as parks and malls within the community
  • Individuals or groups can organize a fun-filled gala event or awareness walks or marathon to spread the message about breast cancer awareness in the population
  • Educational institutions can organize seminars or webinars to educate the youth about breast cancer awareness
  • Doctors and clinics should offer free check-ups and mammograms at discounted rates to encourage more women to go to the doctor
  • Non-profit organizations or groups can organize a sale of pink-themed tee shirts, mugs, bracelets, pins brooches and other stuff via social media to raise breast cancer awareness and raise funds for breast cancer research
  • Players of popular sports such as football or cricket can wear pink ribbons to show their solidarity for raising breast cancer awareness
The sky is the limit for one's creativity and imagination to spread the message about breast cancer awareness and early diagnosis. All it takes is the desire to make a difference.

Self-breast Examination- Signs and Symptoms to Look Out For

All women above 30 years must perform regular self-breast examinations and look out for any unusual or new changes and immediately consult their doctor for further evaluation
  • Painless lump in the breast
  • Lump or nodule in the armpit
  • Sudden changes in the skin over the breast and nipple
  • Sudden increase in breast size or change is shape

How Women can Reduce their Breast Cancer Risk

It is not totally possible to prevent breast cancer, but women can reduce their risk of breast cancer by the following measures which address some of the risk factors of developing breast cancer
  • Be physically active and exercise regularly
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Do regular self-breast examination to check for any new changes
  • Women with a family history of breast cancer should have periodic mammograms for early diagnosis of breast cancer
  • Follow a healthy diet including plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Take whole grains and avoid processed and fried foods
  • Quit smoking and reduce alcohol intake
  • Avoid exposure to x-rays unless absolutely needed
  • Avoid or reduce hormone replacement therapy and discuss other options with your doctor
The majority of breast cancer associated deaths occurs in low and middle-income countries due to lack of awareness and limited access to costly health care services. Awareness campaigns and fund raising activities can provide women in these countries a chance for early diagnosis and treatment. Let's join together to be part of this years Breast cancer Awareness campaigns.

References :
  1. Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October - (http://www.who.int/cancer/events/breast_cancer_month/en/)
  2. What is Breast Cancer Awareness Month? - (https://www.nationalbreastcancer.org/breast-cancer-awareness-month)
  3. Breast Cancer Awareness Month - National Breast Cancer Foundation - (https://breastcancernow.org/get-involved/fundraise-for-us/take-part-in-a-fundraising-event/breast- cancer-awareness-month-october)

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