Breast Cancer Awareness Month (BCAM)is an annual international health campaign organized by major breast cancer charities every October. The purpose of the campaign is to raise money, awareness and understanding about the disease. Learn more about the campaign observed every October and how you can increase your awareness, gain understanding and decrease your chances of getting breast cancer.
What is Breast Cancer?
Breast cancer is a malignant (cancer) tumor that starts from cells of the breast. It is found mostly in women, but men can get breast cancer, too. Usually breast cancer either begins in the cells of the lobules, or the milk-producing glands, or the ducts, the passages that drain milk from the lobules to the nipple. Breast cancer can also begin in the stromal tissues, which is less common. Over time, cancer cells can invade nearby healthy breast tissue and make their way into the underarm lymph nodes, small organs that filter out foreign substances in the body. Should cancer enter into the lymph nodes, they then have a pathway into other parts of the body.
The Importance of Mammograms
A mammogram is an x-ray exam of the breast. It is used to detect and evaluate breast changes. Mammograms are most often used to look for breast cancer or to detect problems or issues in the breasts that may be linked to breast cancer, that is too small to be felt in women who have no breast complaints or symptoms. These are called “screening mammograms”.
Regularly-scheduled mammograms can be a crucial first step in detecting and preventing breast cancer in women. In the United States, the National Cancer Institute recommends that all women over age 40 get mammograms every one to two years. Mammograms are also recommended for women who have a family history of cancer, especially cancers of the breast; if this is the case for you, a discussion with your physician about when to get mammograms is necessary.
Walking In The Name of Breast Cancer Awareness!
During the month of October ( and even year round) various organizations participate in outdoor power walking sessions that focus on breast cancer awareness. As the month of October is deemed as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, many take to nature trails, streets and cities around the country to remember those who have died from breast cancer and those who are currently living with the disease. Many of the participants are breast cancer survivors so the walk serves as symbolism as taking steps from despair, hopelessness and anger toward steps of hope, understanding, early detection and prevention.
How Can You Help?
Many organizations right here in Charlotte have annual breast cancer walks. The most popular are the Avon Breast Cancer Walk and the Susan G. Komen Walk for the cure. Not only is your money welcomed but your time, energy and support are also welcomed components in helping to eradicate breast cancer! Whether it be answering phones at a call center, supplying towels or beverages for sweaty and thirsty walkers on the trail, or simply helping design or fold t-shirts… there are a multitude of activities that you can do to help and your support will be welcomed with open arms!
For more information, visit The Avon Walk Charlotte/Avon Walk For Breast Cancer website, which will take place October 22-23, 2011. You can also visit the Susan G. Komen Race For The Cure website as well.
Cicely C. Mitchell