October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This is a time to show support for survivors and to honor those we have lost to this disease. Breast cancer is the second most common type of cancer in American women. According to the National Cancer Institute, there are an estimated 281,550 cases of female breast cancer this year. Breast cancer also occurs in men and about 2,650 new cases of male breast cancer will be diagnosed this year, according to the American Cancer Society.
The positive news is that survival rates have improved. In fact, deaths from breast cancer decreased slightly every year between 2013 and 2017, according to the institute. Some of the credit for improved rates of survival can be attributed to awareness and prevention efforts, such as knowing about risk factors and breast cancer screening.
Whether you’re a survivor yourself or you just want show support, there are many ways to mark Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Here are few tips:
- Go pink! This month is a perfect time to add some more pink to your life. Whether it’s simply wearing a breast cancer ribbon, adding special decorations around your facility or work area, or wearing pink clothing, you are showing your support.
- Celebrate the survivors in your life. Beating cancer is a life-changing experience that can take a toll on a person’s mental and physical health. You can honor a survivor you know with a thoughtful card, pink flowers, breast cancer jewelry or a pink stuffed animal.
- Support a cause. There are several organizations that work to promote awareness, fund research or support people with breast cancer. Ask yourself, “How would I like help?” Look around for organizations whose missions align with how you want to help. Do some research, ask questions about how they use their resources to aid their mission and find out how you can support them.
- Educate yourself and others. Noticing changes in breast tissue can help save lives. But, do you know what to look out for? Learn about the signs of problems with breast tissue and pass that information onto others. Symptoms of breast cancer can include:
- Any change in the shape or size of the breast
- Thickening or swelling of part of the breast
- Redness or flaky skin in the nipple area or the breast
- Pulling in of the nipple
- Pain in the nipple area or any region of the breast
- A new lump or knot in the breast or underarm
- Nipple discharge other than breast milk, including blood
- Spread awareness. Early detection is vital for survival rates. Help create more survivors by spreading the word about the importance of screening. Encourage women ages 40 to 49 in your life to talk with their doctors about when to start getting mammograms. For women age 50 to 74, remind them about getting a mammogram every 2 years.
- Share resources. If you use social media like Facebook or Twitter, you can post information about free and low cost screening resources such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program. This program provides breast cancer screenings and diagnostic services to underserved women across the U.S. Click here to find out more information.