As Christopher Reeve once said, “Once you choose hope, anything’s possible”. Breast cancer was an unspoken condition for millennia, but it is only through hope and effort, that Breast Cancer Awareness Month has been tremendously successful in increasing the visibility of the most widespread cancer around the world.
Breast Cancer Awareness Month was started by the efforts of many foundations and liberation groups in 1985. Before 1985 this was the most unstudied type of cancer, with a major lack of treatments. Women have had to fight these battles alone for the longest time, because they were not expected to be vocal about it. The Month is celebrated every year in October to campaign to increase awareness of the disease and to raise funds for research into its cause, prevention, diagnosis, treatment and cure.
Breast cancer is a disease in which cells begin to grow out of control in the ducts and lobules of the breast. It can metastasize to other body parts through blood vessels and lymph vessels. A mammogram is used to identify the earliest signs of the disease. A biopsy or MRI can also be done. Additionally, artificial intelligence is being developed for detection of breast cancer, which in turn would help to mitigate the shortage of radiographers.
While the research on other cancers have made huge progress, there were very limited treatments for breast cancer such as radical surgery and radiation therapy. In recent times, Surgery, chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, nanotechnology and multiple gene therapy strategies have been developed as new potential therapies for breast cancer. Research programs like clinical trials are conducted where new drugs and different combinations of treatments are tested. Patients that are eligible can also take part in these trials.
Age, genetic mutations and family history of cancer are the three main risk factors. Increasing exposure to estrogen and inappropriate lifestyle habits can also be some risk factors. Research suggests that women who are not physically active or are overweight have a greater risk of getting breast cancer. Avoiding certain lifestyle habits, like consumption of alcohol, smoking, and taking hormones can help us prevent exposure to such diseases. This can be immensely helpful to be aware of these factors that can cause risk. The most common symptoms include a lump, discomfort, changes to the skin, and discharge other than breast milk (including blood).
“It’s a human disease. It’s not just a gender disease,” Mike Ashman said. Breast cancer can also develop in men even though they have a smaller number of lobules in their chest area. The third week of October is celebrated as “Male Breast Cancer Awareness Week”. It is often diagnosed at a later stage than female breast cancer. The survival rate for men with breast cancer is similar to that of women, when their stage of diagnosis is the same. However, cancers that are detected at a later stage may have a lower chance of being treated.
In the current world of technology there are so many approaches which can be used for the treatment of cancer. With the new upcoming innovations, screening, diagnosis and treatment has caused a decline in the death rate of breast cancer. The technological advancement in the field of medicine has done wonders over the past years and will continue to do the same. About 90% of women newly diagnosed with breast cancer survive for at least five years. Performing self-breast examinations can also be certainly very beneficial, “Early detection is the key to prevention”.