As we proceed into the month of October, there is the need to address Women’s Health, specifically breast cancer. National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (NBCAM) was founded in October 1985 in partnership with the American Cancer Society (ACS) and a pharmaceutical company to promote mammography as an early detection tool to screen for breast cancer (Dictionary, 2021). In addition, NBCAM is symbolized by a pink ribbon created by make-up artist Estee Lauder (Dictionary, 2021). Although millions of women worldwide are diagnosed with breast cancer every day of the week, every month of the year, October has been historically chosen as the month to focus on breast cancer.
Breast cancer affects 1 in 10 women each year and it is the second leading cause of death among women worldwide (Alkabban & Ferguson, 2021). According to the U.S. Cancer Statistics (June 2022) 1,093,984 women were diagnosed with female breast cancer between January 1, 2014, to December 31, 2018. Although a rare occurrence, breast cancer can also affect men.
According to the ACS, Caucasian women have a higher incidence of breast cancer (130.8/100,000) followed by African American women (126.7/100,000), yet African American women are disproportionately affected with a higher incidence of death due to breast cancer (American Cancer Society, 2019). Socio-economic disparities including a lack of access to health care, specifically mammogram screenings and a lack of medical coverage, particularly among the underserved, are a few of the challenges faced by this population.
Early detection is the key! The ACS (2019) recommends screening for average-risk women, age 40-44 be given the option to begin mammogram screenings and women age 45-54 have mammogram screenings yearly. Women age 55 and older may have mammogram screenings every other year or yearly. Women should also perform monthly self-breast exams (SBE) and have yearly clinical-breast exams (CBE) in addition to routine, scheduled mammograms screenings, women need to be proactive and take charge of their breast health. Here are a few key reminders:
B – Be aware of changes of your breasts with SBE and know your norm!
R – Report abnormal breast findings to your health care provider
E – Educate yourself, family members, including male family members, mothers, daughters, sisters and grandmothers on breast cancer
A – Annual breast exams, including CBE and mammograms
S – Symptoms of abnormalities include lump/mass, pain, enlargement, bloody discharge
T – Timing is important! Don’t delay if there is an abnormal finding!
Furthermore, there are various organizations dedicated to educating the public, supporting breast cancer survivors, improving access to mammogram screenings and funding research such as American Cancer Society, Susan G. Komen Foundation and Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF).
Disclaimer of Liability: The material presented on this website, The Remas Staffing Company LLC., is for general education purposes only. You should not rely upon this information for consultation, assessment, diagnostic or management purposes on the basis of health care decisions, providing or receiving second opinions, providing/receiving health care, as a health care provider or health care recipient, or for ethical matters.
Links: www.americancancersociety.org, www.komen.org, and www.bcrf.org
Alkabban, F.M. and Ferguson, T. (August 7, 2021). Breast Cancer. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK48226
American Cancer Society. Breast Cancer Facts & Figures 2019-2020. Atlanta: American Cancer Society, Inc. 2019.
www.dictionary.com/e/historical-current-events/breast-cancer-awareness-month/ (September 2021) no author
U. S. Cancer Statistics Working Group. U. S. Cancer Statistics Working Group Data Visualizations Tool based on 2021 submission data (1999-2019): U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and National Cancer Institute; www.cdc.gov/cancer/dataviz, released June 2022
Written by Dr. Kia Prescott, DNP, APRN, WHNP-BC