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All About Breast Cancer Awareness Month

All About Breast Cancer Awareness Month

You may notice a bit more pink than usual around in October.

It’s to mark Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the time of year when foundations and individuals alike rally to raise awareness and funds for the disease. Breast cancer affects hundreds of thousands of women and men in the U.S. each year, with more than 245,000 invasive cases of the disease expected to be diagnosed in women in 2016 alone.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month started in 1985 by a group of sponsors and the American Cancer Society. The annual event aims to raise the profile of the disease and encourage screening measures that can detect the disease in its early stages and save lives as a result.

One of the key screening measures promoted is regular mammograms. Since gender and age are the two greatest risk factors for breast cancer, women are encouraged by the American Cancer Society to start getting annual mammograms as soon as they reach 45. The regularity of mammograms can be decreased to once every two years for women aged 55 and older. Women between the age of 40 and 44 can select to have mammograms if they face additional risk factors, including a family history of the disease. African American women are also more likely to be diagnosed with the disease at an early age.

In addition to mammograms, Breast Cancer Awareness Month encourages women to learn more about their breasts in general — how healthy breasts are supposed to feel and how to quickly identify irregularities. The National Breast Cancer Foundation has an informative walk through of how women can perform their own monthly breast exam. Self exams are key detection tools in between annual mammograms and can catch a cancerous lump before it progresses to a later stage of the disease.

Getting Involved

The easiest way to get involved in Breast Cancer Awareness Month is to participate in one of the hundreds of events happening in communities across America.

The National Race for the Cure — recently rebranded as the Susan G. Komen for the Cure — is the most common cross-country and worldwide event. Since its creation in 1982, the foundation says it has funded more than $889 million in breast cancer research. A list of this year’s events can be found on the Susan G. Komen website. For people looking to do more than attend an event, the organization also supports individual fundraising projects.

Another way to get involved this October is to sport the iconic pink ribbon. Like Breast Cancer Awareness Month itself, the main goals of the Pink Ribbon campaign is to raise the profile and funds to fight the disease.

In addition to buying the pink ribbons sold at checkout counters, there are also a number of commemorative pink products created to raise funds. In the past, these items have included makeup palettes and lipsticks from Estée Lauder, shirts from Ralph Lauren, and stud earrings from American fashion designer and breast cancer survivor, Betsey Johnson.

You can also find a local charity in your region by using this search function on the Pink Ribbon website.

Products and pink ribbons aside, the best way to get involved in Breast Cancer Awareness Month is to ensure you, your loved ones, and your friends are aware of the signs and symptoms of breast cancer, and know how to identify them in yourself. The whole goal of the month is to eradicate the disease, after all, and that can start with your own preventative actions.