October is only a few days away, and with the new month comes more than just candy corn and Halloween costumes.
National Breast Cancer Awareness Month is almost here, and with the calendar campaign comes an opportunity to learn more about the disease that will kill about 41,400 people this year alone, and what efforts are out there to prevent and manage it.
What you should know
Bottom line: Hundreds of thousands of people are diagnosed with breast cancer every year. The American Cancer Society estimates that last year, about 252,710 new cases were diagnosed in women. The organization also estimated that about 40,610 women died from it.
More than three million people have a history of it in the United States alone, and the American Cancer Society reports that while black and white women get breast cancer at about the same rate, black women are more likely to die from it.
Breast cancer happens when cells grow and divide in an out of control and abnormal manner.
How you can support Breast Cancer Awareness Month
Donations go a long way toward breast cancer research and treatment. A Silver Lining Foundation helps uninsured and underinsured people afford mammograms through its Buy a Mom a Mammogram program, which people can contribute to here. The National Breast Cancer Foundation also breaks down ways you can donate here, and on top of it, they list fundraisers you can join or even start yourself.
There are also plenty of brands working to raise money for breast cancer research. The sleepwear brand Lunya has partnered with Fuck Cancer, donating 100 percent of proceeds of a Fuck Cancer hoodie and pant beginning Oct. 2.
Stella & Dot has also found a way to raise awareness and money, through its Tribute Bracelet, which has been worn by celebs like Jennifer Aniston and Mila Kunis. For the whole month of October, Stella & Dot will donate all net proceeds from the sale of this particular bracelet (which returns Oct. 1) to Bright Pink, a non-profit breast and ovarian health organization.
Susan G. Komen announced earlier this week that they have a new $26 million investment fund that feeds into 62 research projects dedicated to finding solutions for aggressive and metastatic breast cancer, and supporters of their cause can donate directly here.
What signs and symptoms of breast cancer to look for
It should be noted that warning signs for breast cancer are not the same for everyone, and women and men should look for different things (yes, men can get breast cancer too, just at a lower rate than women).
According to Susan G. Komen, the most common signs are a change in the look or feel of the breast or nipple, and nipple discharge. The Susan G. Komen website has a helpful graphic here to assist you in exactly what to look for.
The organization reports that in 2018, it’s estimated that about 2,550 new cases of breast cancer in men will happen. If you’re a man looking for symptoms, check for lumps or hard knots in the chest or underarm areas, rashes, and a change in the shape or size of the breast. You can find a full list of other symptoms for men here.
How you can get screened
Women who are between 45 and 54 should get a mammogram every year to screen for cancer, and women 55 or older should get one at last every two years, per American Cancer Society recommendation.
If you’re getting mammograms regularly, you’re setting yourself up to better catch any abnormalities early. The American Cancer Society recommends that women talk with their health care providers to work out exact screening plans, because things like family history and other factors can lead doctors to recommend MRIs along with mammograms.