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How did October become National Breast Cancer Awareness Month?

by Tracey A. Maine on October 14, 2020

National Breast Cancer Awareness Month aims to make people throughout the country more knowledgeable about this global health issue.

Government agencies, medical societies, and nonprofit organizations work with survivors during October to raise money to fund research, educate women about the importance of getting regular mammograms, and detail prevention and early detection methods.

How did National Breast Cancer Awareness Month originate?

National Breast Cancer Awareness Month dates back to October 1985. This is when the first organized movement to bring attention to the dangers of breast cancer occurred in the United States. Since then, campaigns to educate the public about this disease have continued to thrive and multiply. 

Statistics about Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer affecting women. For example, as of 2008, 1.38 million new cases were reported worldwide. Also, there were 458,000 deaths contributed to this disease on a global scale. 

Currently, the region of the world with the highest rate of breast cancer-related cases is North America. 

What’s the significance of the pink ribbon?

pink-ribbon-3715347_1920A pink ribbon is the international symbol of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. In October 1992, SELF Magazine created a pink ribbon concept to symbolize the importance of breast cancer awareness. Later, SELF editor Alexandra Penney teamed up with cosmetics company Estée Lauder and their then vice president, Evelyn H. Lauder.  

As a result, 1.5 million pink ribbons were distributed at Estée Lauder cosmetics counters worldwide. Then, Lauder, a breast cancer survivor, formed The Breast Cancer Research Foundation, which has raised more than $325 million for cancer research.

Facts Regarding Breast Cancer 

According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, the following information reflects how breast cancer has currently impacted woman in the U.S.:

  • In 2020, an estimated 276,480 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women in the U.S. and 48,530 new cases of non-invasive breast cancer.
  • 64% of breast cancer cases are diagnosed at a localized stage (there is no sign that the cancer has spread outside of the breast), for which the 5-year survival rate is 99%.
  • This year, an estimated 42,170 women will die from breast cancer in the U.S.
  • Although rare, men get breast cancer too. In 2020, it’s estimated that 2,620 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer in the U.S., and approximately 520 will die.
  • 1 in 8 women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime.
  • Breast cancer is the most common cancer in American women, except for skin cancers. It is estimated that in 2020, approximately 30% of all new cancer diagnoses in women will be breast cancer.
  • There are more than 3.5 million breast cancer survivors in the United States.
  • On average, every 2 minutes, a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer in the United States.

5 Ways to Honor NBCA Month

  1. Wear a pink ribbon every day in October.
  2. Organize a walk/run in support of NBCA Month.
  3. Collect scarves and hats you can donate to breast cancer patients.
  4. Post items that support NBCA Month on your social media pages.
  5. Encourage the women in your life to get a regular mammogram.

Anyone who needs more information about breast cancer or National Breast Cancer Awareness Month can visit www.cancer.org.

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