Although breast cancer is a topic worth discussing year-round, the month of October is specifically dedicated to raising awareness for this disease. With this level of exposure, people have the opportunity to understand why this type of cancer is so often talked about and researched, as well as how they can show support to current patients and survivors.
A person is diagnosed with breast cancer when a cancerous tumor is discovered in one’s breast. This type of cancer is most commonly found in women; nonetheless, men can also develop breast cancer. According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), an estimated 287,850 new cases will show up in females in 2022 alone.
Although breast cancer is significantly less common in men than women, ACS estimates 2,710 new cases of breast cancer in men for the same year. The extent of how cancer spreads and affects the body depends on the patient; regardless, being diagnosed with breast cancer is a scary experience as it is a real fear for many men and women.
Survival rates vary based on the person and the course of treatment— whether they decide to go through chemotherapy, radiation, and/or surgery— and the stage at which one receives the diagnosis. Patients who are diagnosed with early-stage cancer (stages I and II) have a higher chance of survival than those with late-stage cancer (stages III and IV).
According to the National Cancer Institute, patients with early-stage breast cancer have a 5-year survival rate of 85-99 percent, and those with late-stage cancer have around a 30 percent 5-year survival rate. These numbers may seem scary, but the general survival rate for breast cancer is still 90.3 percent, so there’s hope for recovery after a diagnosis.
Breast cancer can develop at any point in life, so it’s strongly encouraged to get annual testing. These regular checkups can detect cancer at an earlier stage, thereby increasing one’s survival rate. There are some cases in which people don’t develop any symptoms at all, so these annual appointments are critical in ensuring that the cancer is caught and treated early.
Nedeshka Ruiz, sophomore biology student, said, “Detection is hard, and treatment takes time since cancer isn’t an easy thing that just goes away…Sadly, in my aunt’s case, the tests came too late.”
However, Ruiz explained that the timing of her uncle’s diagnoses saved his life. “With my uncle, they were able to help him in time, and now he’s doing much better. It’s always recommended to get checked up often because you just never know.”
Awareness about how breast cancer can impact people’s lives is critical. Although a cancer diagnosis is incredibly difficult for a patient to receive, the patient’s loved ones are likewise affected. It’s an emotional and painful journey for all involved, so raising awareness to support these families is an important part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Throughout October, people all over the country lend their support to patients and their families. Their journeys aren’t easy, so honoring and supporting survivors and their loved ones is an important part of the month.
Dae’Sani Clarke, sophomore communication student, remarked, “I believe this month is important because it celebrates and gives much deserved recognition to the ones that have beaten breast cancer and to the ones who haven’t but still keep fighting…You never know how serious it is until it happens to someone close to you, so everyone should be aware of the possibilities.”
Clarke added, “But they also have to understand how amazing this month is, and the opportunities it brings for people to come together as a community and show our love and support towards those diagnosed and those who survived.”
Awareness for breast cancer is boosted through fundraising initiatives and educating the public on the importance of early screenings, both of which save lives.
A tremendous amount of love is spread all throughout October to current patients, survivors, and those who have sadly lost their fight.