Breast Cancer Awareness Month
Every October since 1985 millions of people, including politicians, professional athletes, and other public figures, wear pink in support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Every year breast cancer claims the lives of roughly forty-two thousand women and five hundred men. Breast Cancer Awareness Month’s goal is to provide support to those fighting their battles with breast cancer, celebrate survivors, and share the importance of early detection through various types of exams.
Breast cancer is an overgrowth of cells in the breast. There are many types of breast cancer, but the most common is ductal carcinoma. Anyone can get breast cancer, but there are some factors that increase one’s risk of developing breast cancer. For example, those born female have a higher risk than those born male. Males can develop breast cancer, but it is much more common in females, especially females over the age of fifty-five. Genetics can also play a role in one’s likelihood of developing breast cancer. Roughly five to ten percent of breast cancer cases are thought to be caused by a gene mutation passed down from a parent. The most common gene mutations are BCRA1 and BCRA2 which can cause abnormal growth in cells.
Like most types of cancer, breast cancer is often treated with chemotherapy and radiation. Early detection increases the likelihood of remission. The United States Preventative Service Task Force (USPSTF) recommends that women aged fifty to seventy-four should see their doctor for a mammogram–an x-ray of the breast–every two years. Self breast exams can also be performed at home. These should be done by all females once a month, three to five days after the period begins. Instructions for a self-exam can be found here.
Apex High School’s Pink Ribbon Club (PRC) works towards spreading awareness about breast cancer all year round. Co-President of the club Sarah Bess “SB” Eskridge says, “[PRC is] a club to promote awareness of breast cancer, support current fighters, survivors, and honor those who have passed.” SB believes “breast cancer awareness is important because the earlier breast cancer is detected the higher the chance of survival.” Co-president Samantha Barron says at PRC meetings “we make posters and… cards to give to patients.” PRC also hosts an annual drive to collect supplies to donate to those fighting breast cancer. Students interested in joining PRC can follow their Instagram @pinkribbonahs for updates about meetings and events.
Breast cancer is the second leading cause of death among women. One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer at some point in their life. Breast cancer is treatable and remission is possible, but early detection is key. Breast cancer awareness month is dedicated to supporting fighters and survivors and encouraging people to get proper examinations to help detect breast cancer in its early stages, so it is easier to treat.