What does Breast Cancer Awareness Month Mean?

Every year, the month of October turns into a flood of pink. From people handing out pink ribbons in shopping malls to pink-filled marketing campaigns taking over our social media feeds. There’s a good reason for this, and it has to do with breast cancer awareness.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, an annual global initiative to raise awareness about the impact of breast cancer, the second leading cause of cancer death in women in the US. It’s a month used to help raise funds for breast cancer research and raise awareness about the importance of early detection and other preventative measures.

Here’s more on the history of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

The history of Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Breast Cancer Awareness Month was initiated in 1985 as a partnership between the American Cancer Society and the pharmaceutical division of Imperial Chemical Industries (later part of AstraZeneca).

Since then, the cause has grown each year with campaigns to increase the awareness of the disease, raise money to support breast cancer research, and educate people on early detection and prevention methods. NGOs, government agencies and medical societies have all jumped on board globally, working together to promote breast cancer awareness. 

Why pink ribbons?

Like every cause, breast cancer awareness needs a symbol that transcends countries, cultures and languages. And pink, particularly pink ribbons, has become the symbol for breast cancer awareness across the globe.

The pink ribbon wasn’t always the symbol for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Estée Lauder cosmetics first popularized them in 1992, when they handed out an impressive 1.5 million pink ribbons as part of an awareness campaign. Since then, the pink ribbon has been the worldwide symbol of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Pink wasn’t only chosen because of the color’s feminine association (though that does play a part). Studies have also found that pink is life-affirming, calming, playful, quieting, and stress relieving.

Pastel pink, like the color used in the October breast cancer awareness ribbon, is also thought to be health giving.

But, it’s more than pink ribbons

While having a global symbol of awareness is great, the month of October is about more than handing out and wearing pink ribbons. It’s about the meaning behind that pink ribbon. And that’s raising more awareness around breast cancer and actually doing something that makes a difference—whether it’s for your own health, a breast cancer survivor, an NGO or a research center.

Here are a few ways that you can support breast cancer awareness:

Donate directly to research organizations

During the month of October, you’ll find many brands selling products saying that a percentage of the profits will go to cancer research or other breast cancer NGOs. But, sadly, many of these campaigns are in it more for the branding opportunities than anything else. Before you buy any “pink” branded products this month, first research the brand and see where their donations are going and how much of the profits make their way to the cause.

Even better, reach out directly to esteemed cancer research organizations to donate to. A few options to consider are the American Cancer Society, Breastcancer.org, Breast Cancer Research Foundation, Living Beyond Breast Cancer, or your local cancer center.

Check-in on the breast cancer survivors that you know

In the midst of pink October, it can be easy to forget about the people who this disease has directly impacted. There are women—and men around us who are either currently battling this disease, who are survivors, or close family and friends of survivors. For them, seeing the constant stream of pink ribbons can be triggering.

If someone in your life is affected by breast cancer, check in on them this month.

Move from awareness to action

If there’s one thing that this month should urge you to do, it’s to take action on your own breast health. Early detection can save your life, and it only happens if you’re actively monitoring your breasts.

Since breast cancer often has no symptoms, regular breast cancer screenings are all the more critical. Yearly mammograms are recommended for women between ages 45-54 and then every two years from age 55.

Don’t underestimate self-examinations.

Women are often the first ones to discover any potential breast health concerns. Because of this, doctors stress the importance of breast self-awareness (which should already start from a young age). 

Some of the signs that women should look for include: 

  • A lump
  • Changes in the size and shape of the breast
  • Swelling or redness
  • Nipple discharge or rash
  • Skin dimpling

If you notice any changes or irregularities, it’s advised to get checked out by a doctor. 

How Celbrea helps you monitor your breast health

Celbrea® is an FDA-cleared Class I medical device developed to support the early detection of breast disease. While it doesn’t replace a mammogram, it’s an additional way to alert physicians and patients of potential underlying breast pathology.

All it takes is getting a prescription from a doctor, ordering the disposable device, performing the easy-to-use 15-minute test and sharing the results with your doctor.

The test has no age limit and can be done in younger patients who are not yet candidates for mammography. Meaning women around the world can take a more active role in their breast health. It is also particularly beneficial for women who live in out-of-reach areas and struggle to access doctors, women with dense breasts and women with family history would prefer to check themselves more often as Celbrea® is non-invasive providing immediate results.

Find out more about how our product works here.

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