The annual campaign to raise breast cancer awareness falls in October each year. The National Breast Cancer Foundation Inc (NBCF) campaigns throughout the month to raise awareness, spread the word and seek donations to fund their important programs.
The campaign aims to promote prevention through education and raised awareness, and raise funding for mammograms for those who normally couldn’t access this important health care tool. A top priority is providing educational resources for women on how they can be proactive in their own breast health. Knowledge is the key and early detection saves lives.
In women, breast cancer is the second most commonly occurring cancer and mammograms play a vital role in detecting cancer as early as possible, hopefully before it has begun to spread. The detection of a lump in the breast can be very confronting for most women and their families, and they can turn to the NBCF for support and understanding. Through the foundation’s active network, patients can find sympathetic ears and messages of support from other women like them, who have gone through that same journey.
A screening mammogram is a non-invasive procedure where the breasts are exposed to a low energy x-ray from different angles to detect any breast changes in women who have no current signs of breast cancer. On a mammogram it is possible to detect a tumor that cannot be felt, sometimes even up to three years before it can be felt manually.
An early detection can help change the course of the disease and give the woman a greater fighting chance, with a better outcome. On the other hand, a negative screening result can give peace of mind.
If breast cancer can be detected early, still in the localized stage, the 5-year survival rate is 99%. The NBCF helps educate women to regularly perform their own breast self-exams and encourages them to attend regular clinical mammograms.
The NBCF Supports Research
The foundation recognizes organisations like the National Cancer Institute (NCI), who are at the forefront of important research designed to advance our understanding of how we can detect and treat breast cancer. Early detection is critical. Technological advances in imaging are providing improvements in screening and early detection, and detection methodologies are being more and more tailored to each woman’s particular risk profile, for greater precision.
The NCI funds breast cancer research programs into prevention and early detection, screening and treatment. Their work focuses on applying modeling to improve understanding on how all these factors affect breast cancer patient outcomes. NCI-funded programs improve the understanding of how breast screening practices relate to the cancer’s stage at diagnosis, and their impact on survival rates and mortality.
Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day is Oct 13th
The Metastatic Breast Cancer Network (MBCN) provides resources and support for people with Stage IV metastatic breast cancer. The network is an advocacy organization peopled by volunteers and patients. It aims to support the needs and concerns of people who are living with Stage IV breast cancer (MBC), and their loved ones.
The network produces and disseminates the latest information and resources for patients dealing with the condition. The MBCN is also a strong supporter of the relevant clinical trials and cutting-edge research programs in this field.
October 13th each year, is National Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day, which was established in 2009, by government House and Senate resolutions. While one day a year to promote awareness may seem inadequate, the network still continues to play its important role the other 364 days of the year. This is not an uncommon disease and it takes many thousands of lives every year.
So, What is Metastatic Breast Cancer?
When cancer reaches Stage IV, it is metastatic, whereby it has moved out from its original location, like the breast, by a process known as metastasis. It is actively spreading through the body to other places like the organs and bones, including potentially to the liver and brain. Early cancers that may have seemed “cured” can make a reappearance at a later date, as metastatic disease. This development cannot be predicted and may not happen, but it is not uncommon.
Metastatic Breast Cancer is not curable but it can be treated and managed to try to prevent further spread. All deaths from breast cancer are a result of metastatic breast cancer. The occurrence and size of the cancer tumors are monitored over time by imaging procedures and blood tests to assess whether or not it is progressing or shrinking, spreading or remaining stable. The aim is for patients to strive for a good quality of life, for as long as possible. It is widely recognized that more funding needs to be raised for greater research into this deadly disease.
While treatment of early-stage breast cancer is aggressive and focusing on a cure, there is no cure for metastatic breast cancer. Once it reaches Stage IV, treatment focuses on a more long-term, monitoring approach and therapy, with a focus on achieving long term quality of life.
The Metastatic Breast Cancer Network’s philosophy is to live life to the fullest, every day, and celebrate that you have survived to welcome in another Pinktober!