Get your pink on: Breast Cancer Awareness Month is here
By Mary Wade Burnside
In the U.S, 1 in 8 (12.5%) women develop breast cancer and a diagnosis is confirmed on average every two minutes. It is the most prevalent cancer diagnosed in women except for skin cancer. It is estimated by the end of 2021, 281,550 new cases will be identified and 43,600 will die. Although less common, men also suffer from breast cancer. In the U.S, 1 in 833 develop breast cancer. More facts and statistics on breast cancer can be found here.
Furthermore, other groups are at higher risk. Latino and Black women have higher rates of cervical cancer, and Black women are more likely to die of breast cancer than other racial or ethnic groups.
This is why screenings are so important.
The biggest risk factors for developing breast cancer are growing old and being a woman. Family history and genetics also play in a role. Some risks can be avoided, such as drinking alcohol and being overweight. However, 60-70% of people diagnosed with breast cancer have no link to any of these risk factors. More risk factors can be found here.
If caught early in a localized stage, breast cancer has a five-year relative 99% recovery rate. Therefore, it is necessary to stay cognizant of the signs. The most common sign is a lump in the breast. It is recommended for adult women to do self exams every month. Clinical breast exams and mammograms are also encouraged.
MCHD Clinical Services performs clinical breast exams and offers mammogram referrals. The site is linked here. Through the West Virginia Breast and Cervical Cancer (WVBCC) Screening Program, MCHD Clinical Services offers free or low-cost cancer screening. The WVBCC is hosting an online celebration for Breast Cancer Awareness Month on Oct. 14 from noon to 1 p.m. Click here to register.
You can also learn more about MCHD Clinical Services' services on Saturday morning during the 2021 Breast Cancer Survivorship Walk at Hazel Ruby McQuain Amphitheater. We'll have a table there and be able to answer questions and we'll also be participating in the 10 a.m. walk.
Even if you don’t have breast cancer, October is meant to raise awareness. The annual observance strives to decrease stigma for patients and increase support for research in finding a cure.
You can help the campaign in numerous ways. You can donate to help equalize access to breast cancer screenings or to research initiatives. You can support charities that want clothing for cancer patients in hospitals. You can educate yourself and others through reading. You can volunteer, spread the word and share personal stories to bring more awareness to the cause.
And of course, you can wear the iconic pink ribbon.