The first Breast Cancer Awareness Month, also referred to as BCAM, was observed in the United States in 1985. Since then, the country has emphasized the widespread importance of this month by referring to it as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, or NBCAM.
This event began as an effort to encourage women to have mammograms, thereby increasing the early detection rate of breast cancer. This early detection allows for more effective treatment and the prevention of the cancer’s spread to other parts of the body. The mammogram process itself involves an x-ray of the breast to detect any abnormalities in the tissue.
Growth in Popularity
As awareness of this event grew, so did its focus. In 1998, the launch of The US National Breast Cancer Awareness Month Website provided a central location to access the list of organizations on the event’s board of sponsors. A large number of organizations, in the US and in other countries, have come to support this large-scale health awareness event.
Though only a month is officially devoted to the campaign, the impressive sums of money raised and ever-growing amount of organizations involved are indicative of what has actually become more of a year-round event. What began as simply an awareness campaign has now become just as much about raising funds for breast cancer support and research.
The Campaign’s Symbols
Though the pink ribbon was previously a symbol of breast cancer itself, the founding of The Breast Cancer Research Foundation in 1993 re established it as the symbol for breast cancer awareness.
This decision was well-received, and a variety of famous buildings and landmarks have been illuminated in pink light in honor of the event. These have included Canada’s Niagara Falls, Japan’s Tokyo Tower, and Sydney’s Harbour Bridge. Striking displays such as these have contributed to the success of this awareness event, and now many people associate pink ribbons and even the color pink itself with breast cancer awareness.
Breast cancer is the second most common type of cancer, and mainly affects women, as it begins in the breast tissue. Breast cancer can also occur in men; however, this is very rare. In 2005, over 185,000 women were diagnosed with this disease, which can become dangerous when undetected and left untreated.
Breast cancer can spread to other areas of the body, at which point it is referred to as metastatic breast cancer and classified as stage 4. Sadly, the five-year survival rate for stage 4 breast cancer is a mere 16 percent; a woman’s best chances for beating this disease are before it has reached this point. Early prevention and subsequent treatment of this disease are high priorities.
These priorities are furthered through the tireless efforts of the individuals and organizations who participate in Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Thanks to all who strive to promote awareness and fight this disease, breast cancer will hopefully one day be entirely cured.