Think Pink

Tamira Hall, Feature Reporter

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which is an annual campaign to increase awareness of the disease. While most people are aware of breast cancer, many forget to take the steps to have a plan to detect the disease in its early stages and encourage others to do the same. Cancer is a broad term for a class of diseases characterized by abnormal cells that grow and invade healthy cells in the body. Breast cancer starts in the cells of the breast as a group of cancer cells that can then invade surrounding tissues or spread (metastasize) to other areas of the body. Sometimes, the process of cell growth goes wrong and forms a tumor. Breast cancer occurs when malignant tumors develop in the breast. These cells can spread by breaking away from the original tumor and entering blood vessels or lymph vessels, which branch into tissues throughout the body. When cancer cells travel to other parts of the body and begin damaging other tissues and organs, the process is called metastasis. Rates of breast cancer vary among different groups of people. Rates vary between women and men and among people of different ethnicities and ages. They vary around the world and across the U.S. For women in 2015, it is estimated that among U.S. women there will be 231,840 new cases of invasive breast cancer, 60,290 new cases of in situ breast cancer and lobular carcinoma in situ, and about 40,290 breast cancer deaths. Breast cancer in men is rare, but it does happen. In 2015, it is estimated that among men in the U.S. there will be 2,350 new cases and 440 breast cancer deaths. The first known use of a pink ribbon in connection with breast cancer awareness was in the fall of 1991, when the Susan G. Komen Foundation handed out pink ribbons to participants in its New York City race for breast cancer survivors. The pink ribbon was adopted as the official symbol of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month the next year, in 1992. In 1980, Nancy G. Brinker promised her dying sister, Susan, that she would do everything in her power to end breast cancer forever. In 1982, that promise became the Susan G. Komen organization and the beginning of a global movement. What was started with $200 and a shoebox full of potential donor names has now grown into the world’s largest nonprofit source of funding for the fight against breast cancer. To date, they have invested more than $2.6 billion in groundbreaking research, community health outreach, advocacy and programs in more than 30 countries.

Their effort has helped reduce death rates from breast cancer by 34 percent since 1990; and has helped improve five-year relative survival rates for early stage cancers from 74 to 99 percent.

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