October is marked as Breast Cancer Awareness Month every year to turn the world’s attention to the need for early detection and treatment of the disease.
Breast cancer is a disease in which abnormal breast cells grow out of control and form tumours. If left unchecked, the tumours can spread throughout the body and become fatal.
Over 2.3 million cases of breast cancer are reported each year, making it one of the most common cancers among adults. In 95% of countries across the globe, breast cancer is the first or second leading cause of female cancer deaths.
So, this October, let’s take a pledge to be more aware and educated about breast cancer and take proactive steps for early detection of the disease. Let’s all pledge to be Pink Aware.
According to the American Cancer Society, when breast cancer is detected early, and is in the localized stage, the 5-year relative survival rate is 99%. Early detection includes doing monthly breast self-exams, and scheduling regular clinical breast exams and mammograms.
The Time to Act is NOW
In India, more than 1,75,000 new cases are being diagnosed every year, with a woman losing her life to breast cancer every 8 minutes. And the numbers are rising at a staggering rate. So, we don’t have a minute to lose.
The World Health Organization (WHO) released a Global Breast Cancer Initiative Framework on February 3, 2023, providing a roadmap to attain a target to save 2.5 million lives from breast cancer by 2040. It outlines three pillars of action with specific key performance indicators:
- Recommending countries to focus on breast cancer early-detection programmes so that at least 60% of the breast cancers are diagnosed and treated as early-stage disease.
- Diagnosing breast cancer within 60 days of initial presentation can improve breast cancer outcomes. Treatment should start within three months of first presentation.
- Managing breast cancer so that at least 80% of patients complete their recommended treatment.