Breast cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed cancers in woman, second only to non-melanoma skin cancers. Breast cancer can be a devastating disease, but with early detection, treatment and survival are possible. Furthermore, with continued epidemiological studies and treatment research, women stand a better chance than ever of beating this devastating disease. National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, celebrated in October, has been on a mission for the last 20 years to educate women about breast cancer, particularly about detecting the disease in its earliest stages through mammograms, clinical breast exams, and breast self-exams. Through the efforts of the American Breast Cancer Foundation and National Breast Cancer Awareness month, research continues to make great strides each year.
The research funded and supported by both the American Breast Cancer Foundation and those sponsors of National Breast Cancer Awareness month has helped identify important patterns and risk factors associated with breast cancer. While every woman is at risk for breast cancer, certain factors have been shown to increase that risk. For example, having a first degree relative (mother, sister, daughter) with breast cancer approximately doubles a woman's risk, and having two first degree relatives with breast cancer increases her risk 5 times. Also, women who have used hormone replacement therapy for longer than 10 years are at a slightly higher risk of developing breast cancer. These findings will
allow us to pay closer attention to the populations that fit in these high risk categories and hopefully save lives.
Since National Breast Cancer Awareness Month has been so vital in furthering our understanding of breast cancer, it's important to help continue that important work. A great resource for those looking to get involved in the National Breast Cancer Awareness Month is the official website at nbcam.org. There you can access a variety of resources that will help you become part of this important American breast cancer campaign. The website encourages everyone to become what they call a NBCAM (National Breast Cancer Awareness Month) Program Leader. A NBCAM Program Leader is any one who spreads the message about the importance of early detection for breast cancer. NBCAM programs can be found in clinics, medical centers, nonprofit and community centers, shopping malls, places of worship, schools, private homes and other places where people gather. Anyone with the drive to make a difference can be a Program Leader.
Prominently displayed on the National Breast Cancer Awareness Month website is their Program Guide for becoming a Program Leader. One of the first things of note in the Program Guide is the past accomplishments attributed to the National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. For example, between 1990 and 2005, breast cancer death rates decreased by 2.3%. The greatest decline was seen in women under age 50, probably due to earlier detection and improved treatment, which in part has been fueled by this breast cancer campaign. The National Breast Cancer Awareness Month Program Guide also gives many tips on how to spread the word for those looking to become Program Leaders. It includes tips directed for clinics, the workplace and the community. It also includes ideas for getting the media involved on your efforts, to give further attention to National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and the importance of continued research.
Through the efforts of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the American Breast Cancer Foundation and individuals in our community, we will continue to fight for information, research and to find a cure for this devastating disease.