“One in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer at one time in their lives.”– National Breast Cancer Foundation
Did you know that Breast Cancer Awareness Month begins on October 1st and ends on October 31st?
So, what exactly is Breast Cancer Awareness Month? It is a yearly campaign that educates the public on breast cancer risks, the importance of early detection (screenings), and the various treatment options available to people (both women and men), who have been diagnosed with breast cancer. The purpose of Breast Cancer Awareness Month is to inform the masses that approximately 220,000 Americans get diagnosed with breast cancer every single year, and out of those 220,000 people, almost 40,000 of them eventually die from it (Breast Friends, 2017). So, to honor those who have lost and won the battle against this disease, a pink loop ribbon has been designated as an official symbol of breast cancer awareness. You can find this pink ribbon etched on a variety of Breast Cancer Awareness Month products, ranging from clothing and keychains to teddy bears and office supplies.
What is Breast Cancer?
So, what exactly is breast cancer? Breast cancer is a form of cancer, where malignant (cancerous) cells or tumors form in the breast tissues. This group of cancerous cells then invades the adjacent tissues, often metastasizing (spreading) to other parts of the body, damaging other organs and tissues. Sometimes, these cells separate from the original site, enter your blood vessels and breast tissue and travel throughout your body. Why does this happen? Sometimes cellular growth goes horribly awry with the body by overproducing cells, damaging them, and/or altering them. When this occurs, the cells accumulating in the tissues, causing growths, bumps, and/or tumors. Learning this breast cancer awareness fact is imperative in catching it before it becomes more difficult to treat.
Can Men Get Breast Cancer Too?
Yes! All people, regardless of gender, can get breast cancer. Why? Because all people are born with breast tissue, which means that anyone can get this disease. This is a rarely known breast cancer awareness fact that everyone should know. And, even though males don’t develop milk glands and produce milk, their breast cells can still mutate, leading to cancerous cells in their breast tissues. It is important to note, however, that the risk of male breast cancer is extremely low. In fact, less than 1% of breast cancer cases involve males, and only 1 in 1,000 males will be diagnosed with breast cancer, during their lifetimes (American Cancer Society, 2017). How is it diagnosed in males? Male breast cancer is normally diagnosed by a hard bump or growth under the areola and nipple. Breast Cancer Awareness Month is important, even for males, because the risk of death is higher in males than females, mainly because men, in general, have a misconception that they can’t get breast cancer, so they dismiss the signs, leading to a delay in treatment. The most common male breast cancer is infiltrating ductal carcinoma (IDC) – a form of breast cancer, in which cells in or near the breast ducts infiltrate the surrounding breast tissue. Males, however, are hardly ever diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer.
Breast Cancer Awareness Facts
Because it is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, it is important to pay close attention to the breast cancer awareness facts listed below.
According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation:
- Females are diagnosed with breast cancer more frequently than males.
- The second leading cause of cancer-related deaths, among women, is breast cancer.
- You cannot “catch” breast cancer. It is not contagious, so you can’t get it from someone, who has the disease.
- You also cannot get breast cancer from breast implants, wearing underwire bras, fragrant deodorants or antiperspirants, mammogram screenings, overindulging in caffeine, eating from plastic containers, using microwaves, or talking on cell phones.
- Approximately 65% of those with breast cancer have no known connection or risk factors for cancer, and others ironically, who do have risk factors for breast cancer never develop it.
- Male breast cancer is rare, but more than 2,400 men are diagnosed with it each year with approximately 460 of them dying within a year.
- Every two minutes, a female is diagnosed with breast cancer, and every 13 minutes, a female dies from it.
- Lastly, approximately 3 million people fought and won the battle against breast cancer.
In summary, the good news is that most cases of breast cancer are treatable – if detected early. One way to save your life or the life of a friend or loved one is to learn breast cancer awareness facts and promote Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
American Cancer Society. (2017). What are the key statistics about breast cancer in men? Retrieved from https://www.cancer.org/cancer/breast-cancer-in-men/about/key-statistics.html
Strauch, I. (2017). Breast cancer awareness month 2017. Everyday Health. Retrieved from https://www.everydayhealth.com/breast-cancer/breast-cancer-awareness-month/
National Breast Cancer Foundation. (2017). Breast cancer facts. Retrieved from http://www.nationalbreastcancer.org/breast-cancer-facts
Breast Friends. (2017). Breast cancer signs, symptoms and facts. Retrieved from https://www.breastfriends.org/cancer-facts/breast-cancer-facts/