Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Breast Cancer Awareness Month (BCAM), also called National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (NBCAM), is an annual international health campaign organized by major breast cancer charities every October to increase awareness of the disease and to raise funds for research into its cause, prevention, diagnosis, treatment and cure.

Breast cancer awareness month is a yearly campaign that starts on October 1 and ends on October 31 every year.

NBCAM was founded in 1985 in October as a partnership between the American Cancer Society and a pharmaceutical producer of several anti-breast cancer drugs. The focus of the NBCAM is to promote mammography as the most effective weapon in the fight against breast cancer.

The Breast Cancer Research Foundation established the pink ribbon to symbolize breast cancer.


  • Breast cancer is the second most common cancer among women in the United States.
  • About 1 in 8 U.S. women (about 12%) will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime.
  • The overall death rate from breast cancer decreased by 1.3% per year from 2013 to 2017. These decreases are thought to be the result of treatment advances and earlier detection through screening.
  • For women in the U.S., breast cancer death rates are higher than those for any other cancer, besides lung cancer.
  • As of January 2020, there are more than 3.5 million women with a history of breast cancer in the U.S. This includes women currently being treated and women who have finished treatment.
  • A woman’s risk of breast cancer nearly doubles if she has a first-degree relative (mother, sister, daughter) who has been diagnosed with breast cancer.
  • About 85% of breast cancers occur in women who have no family history of breast cancer. These occur due to genetic mutations that happen as a result of the aging process and life in general, rather than inherited mutations.

Risk Factors

A risk factor is anything that increases your chances of getting a disease. The most significant risk factors for breast cancer are being a female and aging.

There is no sure way to prevent breast cancer or change some breast cancer risk factors, such as family history and aging, but there are things you can do that might lower your risk.

Drinking alcohol is clearly linked to an increased risk of breast cancer. The risk increases with the amount of alcohol consumed.

Being overweight or obese after menopause increases breast cancer risk. Having more fat tissue after menopause can raise estrogen levels and increase the chance of getting breast cancer. Women who are overweight tend to have higher blood insulin levels. Higher insulin levels have been linked to some cancers, including breast cancer.

Regular physical activity reduces breast cancer risk, especially in women past menopause.


A mammogram is an X-ray picture of the breast. For many women, mammograms are the best way to find breast cancer early, when it is easier to treat and before it is big enough to feel or cause symptoms. Having regular mammograms can lower the risk of dying from breast cancer. Regular mammograms are the best tests doctors have to find breast cancer early, sometimes up to three years before it can be felt.

An abnormal mammogram does not always mean that there is cancer or need surgery. You may be referred to a breast specialist or a surgeon. These doctors are experts in diagnosing breast problems. Doctors will do follow-up tests to diagnose breast cancer.

Breast cancer screening consists of checking a woman’s breasts for cancer before there are signs or symptoms of the disease. Breast cancer screening can help find breast cancer early, when it is easier to treat.

You can get screened for breast cancer at a clinic, hospital, or doctor’s office. If you want to be screened for breast cancer, call your doctor’s office. Most health insurance plans are required to cover screening mammograms for women beginning at age 40 with no out-of-pocket cost.