The selling of cancer wristbands has been an effective way of raising money for breast cancer programs and raising awareness of the disease. Wearing cancer wristbands became hugely popular after famed Tour de France bicyclist and testicular cancer survivor, Lance Armstrong, created and started to wear the "Livestrong" yellow wristband to raise money for his foundation.
Because of the cancer wristbands popularity and fund raising effectiveness, many other causes including those concerned with fighting breast cancer created their own cancer wristbands. The pink breast cancer bracelets quickly grew in popularity. They are stylish, cool, and allow people to make a statement about a cause that is important to them. These bracelets help breast cancer organizations and other institutions raise awareness of breast cancer.
This is vital because in 2006 nearly 213,000 women will be diagnosed with invasive cancer. Although most cases of breast cancer occur among women 40 years of age and older, approximately 5% occur in women under the age of 40. Because of the low occurrence rate, younger women generally do not consider themselves at risk of developing the disease. Therefore, they may not be aware of preventive measures, early detection techniques, and the risk factors (conditions or behaviors that increase the chances of developing breast cancer) associated with breast cancer.
Even though a woman might be under age 40, she may have several of the factors that put her at higher risk of developing breast cancer. Although having one or more risk factors does not mean a woman will develop breast cancer, knowing what her risk factors are will give her a better chance of detecting the disease early or possibly preventing it. Common risk factors include:
1. Previous diagnosis of breast cancer or some non-cancerous breast condition
2. A family history with the disease, especially a mother, daughter, or sister who has had the disease
3. History of radiation therapy
4. Carrying a defect in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes
5. A Gail Index score of 1.7% or higher (This index calculates a woman's risk of developing breast cancer within the next five years by using risk factors including age, family history of breast cancer, age of onset of menstruation and first pregnancy, and number of breast biopsies.)
Younger woman should be aware of the fact that diagnosing breast cancer in women under 40 years of age is more difficult because their breast tissue tends to be thicker than that of older women. Consequently, a lump in a younger woman's breast cannot be felt until it is larger and the cancer is often times more advanced. Also, breast cancer can be more aggressive in younger women and more difficult to treat. In addition, younger women tend to dismiss breast cancer warning signs - breast lumps, unusual discharge from the nipple, or a change in the size, shape, or contour of the breast - because they think they are too young to develop the disease.
Given the severity of breast cancer and the special issues facing younger women when dealing with the disease, any awareness that cancer wristbands and pink breast cancer bracelets can bring to younger women about the disease is important. The popular and trendy pink cancer bracelets are far more than a fashion accessory or fad, they are potentially a means for helping young women understand that breast cancer can strike a woman at any time in their lives.