For nearly four decades now, the country has recognized October as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It is a time annually devoted to educating everyone about breast cancer—including metastatic breast cancer (MBC)—and the importance of early detection and timely, high-quality care.
No matter who you are or where you live, breast cancer may touch your life. It’s necessary to understand the warning signs of breast cancer, your risk and what’s normal for you, so if there are any changes in your breasts, you can act.
Since 1989, Susan G. Komen has helped drive down mortality rates from breast cancer thanks to our focus on early detection and improvements in treatment—however, that progress is in jeopardy. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many people delayed their regular screening and the pandemic disrupted treatment and research progress.
And progress is needed. Through research, growing knowledge about breast cancer has led to new therapies and targeted treatments that improved outcomes for many people and replaced the one-size-fits-all treatments of three decades ago. It is research that brings hope to patients facing this disease, especially those living with MBC. We need to ensure more options for patients, especially when treatments stop working.
The COVID-19 pandemic also highlighted the disparity in breast cancer treatments for rural and low-income people across the country, as well as the disparity in treatment between Black and white women. Black women in the U.S. are about 40 percent more likely to die from breast cancer than white women.
That’s why Susan G. Komen encourages you to dedicate this October as a time of action, both for yourself and others.
1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime—that’s one person every 12 minutes in the U.S.
The two greatest risk factors of breast cancer are being female and getting older.
In 2021, it is estimated that 43,600 women and 530 men in the U.S. will die from breast cancer.
Know Your Risk
Knowing your family history is lifesaving. Talk to a doctor about your family history and see how that history impacts your risk of breast cancer. You and your doctor can create a personalized plan to monitor for signs of the disease.
For those at average risk, have a mammogram every year starting at age 40. If there are any signs of breast cancer, finding it early and treating it early may save your life.
Know Your Normal
It’s important to know what’s normal for you, so if something doesn’t look or feel right, you can notify your health care provider.
Make Healthy Lifestyle Choices
Living a healthy lifestyle is within all our control and may lower your risk of breast cancer. Maintain a healthy weight, limit alcohol intake and exercise regularly—it all matters when it comes to your overall health and risk of disease.
There are a number of ways that you can join our fight to save lives. Whether it’s by supporting one of our many generous corporate partners, fundraising through one of our many Race for the Cure, MORE THAN PINK Walk events or our Komen 3-Day walk, participating in a fundraising challenge on Facebook or crafting a fundraiser of your own that is meaningful to you, your support can help us take action to invest in research and help those facing breast cancer today.
The Komen Breast Care Helpline is a free resource available for every person, including survivors, caregivers, those living with breast cancer and people who have not yet been touched by breast cancer but have questions about how to better care for themselves. The Helpline Specialists provide emotional support and guidance to resources and Komen’s other patient care services, such as financial help through our Treatment Assistance Program, access to a patient navigator and more.
Early detection and effective treatment are critical to reducing breast cancer deaths. Together, we can end breast cancer by supporting those in need today, while tirelessly searching for tomorrow’s cures.