October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, an annual international health campaign organized by major breast cancer charities every October. The purpose is to increase awareness of the disease and to raise funds for research into cause, prevention, diagnosis, treatment and cure.
- One of the most well-known breast cancer associations, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, was founded by Susan G. Komen’s sister, Nancy G. Brinker in 1982.
- In 1983, the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure was held for the first time in Dallas,Texas, where 800 people participated. Over the past twenty-nine years, Race for the Cure has grown to include over one million participants each year, which makes it the largest 5k run/walks in the world.
- National Breast Cancer Awareness Month began in 1985 as a partnership between the American Cancer Society and the pharmaceutical division of Imperial Chemical Industries. The main goal was to promote mammography as the most effective weapon in the fight against breast cancer.
- In 1993 Evelyn Lauder, who was the Senior Corporate Vice President of the Estée Lauder Companies, founded The Breast Cancer Research Foundation and established the pink ribbon as its symbol.
(Source: NBCAM and Susan G. Komen for a Cure)
Breast Cancer Awareness Month has become an international awareness campaign, with many countries participating in fund raisers and showing their support for those who have been affected by breast cancer.
Breast cancer has become the second most common type of cancer, affecting over 225,000 women and over 2,000 men each year totaling an estimate of 40,000 deaths a year.(Source: National Cancer Institute) Breast cancer is easiest to treat the earlier it is detected. There are certain risk factors to be conscious of for early diagnosis. Some common risk factors include:
Being a Woman: Once they are fully formed, breast cells are immature and are highly active until a woman’s first full-term pregnancy. While they are immature a woman’s breast cells are very responsive to estrogen and other hormones, including hormone disrupters in the environment. Men’s breasts, on the other hand, are inactive and have extremely low levels of estrogen.
Age: 1 in 8 women 45 years-old or younger are diagnosed with breast cancer whereas 2 out of 3 women 55 years-old or older are diagnosed. The reason being, while growing older there are more opportunities for genetic damage and during the aging process, bodies are less capable of repairing genetic damage.
Family history: If you have an immediate family member diagnosed with breast cancer, your risk is doubled. If you have two immediate family members, your risk if five times higher than average.
Race/Ethnicity: White women are more likely to develop breast cancer than African America, Hispanic, and Asian women. But African American women are more likely to develop a more aggressive, more advanced-stage of breast cancer at a young age.
Pregnancy History: Women who haven’t had a full-term pregnancy or have their first child after the age of 30 have a higher risk of breast cancer compared to women who gave birth before age 30. After pregnancy, breastfeeding can lower the risk of breast cancer. By constantly producing milk, the breast cells’ ability to misbehave are more limited. Also, most women while breast feeding have fewer menstrual cycles, added to the 9 missed periods during pregnancy, resulting in lower estrogen levels.
*Find more information about breast cancer risk factors*
Early diagnosis increases the chance of beating the disease along with great treatment. Digital Mammography is the most effective method for the detection, diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer. FirstHealth encourages you to take advantage of this life saving measure. Schedule your digital mammogram as a self-requesting patient or with a referral from your provider by calling toll-free (866) 415-2778.
FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital’s FirstHealth Cancer Services provides world-class breast cancer treatment with a 1-5 year breast cancer survivor rate that is among the best in the state of North Carolina. FirstHealth offers breast cancer treatment and support for patients in the Pinehurst, Raeford, Sanford, Lumberton, Laurinburg, Rockingham, and Troy regions of North Carolina and beyond.