Breast cancer awareness programs – a necessity in 2021
Come October, and there is a flurry of pink ribbons to signal the arrival of breast cancer month. With an entire month dedicated to breast cancer, it makes us ask why. Why is there a whole month devoted to this dreaded form of cancer? Why do medical institutions worldwide offer hordes of information on breast cancer, nationwide breast screening programs, and more during October? The answer is simple – to raise awareness of breast cancer. Breast cancer awareness can save lives. Here’s a look at why it’s so important to raise breast cancer awareness through breast cancer awareness programs.
Did you know, besides skin cancers, breast cancer is the most common cancer in American women? Here are some statistics to reflect on and understand the seriousness of the situation.
- A woman in the United States today has one in eight chances of developing breast cancer.
- One woman dies of breast cancer every 13 minutes.
- The risk of developing breast cancer increases with age.
- By the end of 2021, an estimated 281,550 women will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer this year alone.
- Black women have a 40% higher risk of developing breast cancer.
- Breast cancer will recur in 20% to 30% of women diagnosed, treated, and declared free of breast cancer.
- Breast cancer affects approximately 1% of men.
With such a high risk of developing breast cancer, one would think that women would make breast cancer screening a priority. However, there is a disparity between knowledge of routine breast cancer screen and actual screen behavior. Women avoid breast cancer screening because of:
- Fear of pain
- Fear of the results
- Reservations about unfamiliar types of examination
- Myths and ignorance (For example, I am too young, have no history of breast cancer in my family, don’t feel a lump, etc.)
The importance of a breast cancer awareness
1. Breast cancer awareness programs can shatter myths
Despite the high number of breast cancer cases every year, there are a lot of myths surrounding the disease. Some of these myths include:
- Breast cancer occurs only in women with a family history of breast cancer.
- I am too young to get breast cancer.
- I don’t smoke, so I can’t develop breast cancer.
- I look at my breasts every day, so I don’t need a mammogram.
- I am a man, so I can never develop breast cancer.
Awareness around breast cancer can help allay fears, shatter myths, empower women to make the right choices about their health, and get necessary treatment on time if cancer is detected.
2. Breast cancer awareness programs are educative
Awareness of breast cancer does not merely make women aware that they could die from the disease. A good breast cancer awareness program will also focus on:
- Prevention and how to reduce the risk of breast cancer
- How to conduct a breast examination on yourself
- Screening options (mammogram, breast ultrasound, and breast MRI)
- Treatment (surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, hormone therapy, and targeted therapy)
3. Breast cancer programs make women aware of what they must look out for
Many women still believe that a lump in the breast is the only sign of breast cancer, when in fact, women must watch out for:
- Lumps in the breasts or armpits
- Swelling or thickening of any part of the breast
- Skin irritation of the breast skin or dimpling
- Persistent and localized breast pain
- Redness or scaling of the breast skin
- Thickening of the breast skin or nipple
- Nipple discharge (other than breast milk)
- Changes in the shape or size of the breast.
4. Breast cancer awareness programs can help people make healthier choices
A well-designed and implemented educational program helps people reflect on their life choices and make healthier choices. For example:
- Quit smoking
- Eat healthily
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Minimize alcohol use
5. Breast cancer awareness programs can encourage women to get screened regularly
When women know the importance of early detection to treat breast cancer successfully and how the different screening methods work, they are more open to getting screened regularly. These programs also let people know who must get screened and when.
- Women must have a risk assessment at age 30 to see if they require regular screening earlier than age 40.
- Women with average breast cancer risk must be screened regularly from age 40 onward.
- Those who have previously been diagnosed with breast cancer must have MRIs – especially if they were diagnosed before 50.
Are breast cancer awareness programs necessary? Yes! While breast cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer, there is still a lot of awareness that can be spread through awareness programs. Early detection, diagnosis, and treatment are key to better outcomes, and that message is passed on through breast cancer programs.
American Medical Seminars, Inc. provides high-quality practice-based continuing medical education (CME) across various locations within the United States. AMS is accredited by the ACCME and is one of the top providers of CME for physicians and other healthcare providers.