Breast Cancer Awareness Month is an annual movement created to bring awareness and show support for those affected by breast cancer. This movement provides an opportunity for individuals to learn more about this deadly disease that affects both men and women.


According to breastcancer.org, “In 2021, an estimated 281,550 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in women in the U.S., along with 49,290 new cases of non-invasive (in situ) breast cancer. About 2,650 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in men in 2021.”

pink symbol for breast cancer
According to 2021 statistics from the National Breast Cancer Coalition, breast cancer affects 1 out of 8 women.
Graphic by Chris Swann


There are seven common types of breast cancer, including Ductal carcinoma in situ, ​​Invasive Ductal Carcinoma, Lobular Carcinoma In Situ, Invasive Lobular Cancer, Triple Negative Breast Cancer, Inflammatory Breast Cancer and Metastatic Breast Cancer. Each type varies regarding symptoms and severity.


One of the most recommended steps to take to detect breast cancer early on is preforming self-examinations. Breastcancer.org states, “Breast self-exam, or regularly examining your breasts on your own, can be an important way to find a breast cancer early, when it’s more likely to be treated successfully.”


Ronna Best, nurse navigator at the Ross Breast Center at ​​CHRISTUS Trinity Mother Frances, discusses the age individuals should begin self-examining.


“Women need to start doing self breast examinations starting about age 20. And that way, they know what changes could prompt a physical exam,” Best said. “What’s involved in a breast exam, not only to feel of the tissue, but you also look for changes on the skin and the nipple.”


Best recommends performing a self-exam monthly.


“Theoretically, what we’d like to say is, we want it to be the same time every month, and toward the end of her menstrual period,” Best said. “That is the best time to do self-exams, especially for younger women.”


Signs to look for when doing a self-exam include, “a change in the breast tissue, if there’s a change in the appearance of the skin, if there’s dimpling, if there’s a change in the color, if there’s a rash or a sore that doesn’t heal, if there’s discharge, either clear discharge or even bloody discharge from the nipple,” Best said.


According to healthline.com, “If breast cancer spreads to other parts of the body, it may cause symptoms in those particular areas, too. Affected areas may include the liver, lungs, muscles, bones and brain.


Cassandra Linthicum, sophomore at TJC, discusses the toll breast cancer has had on one of her mom’s coworkers.


“I have not had any personal interactions with breast cancer, but my mom has at her previous job. One of her coworkers had gotten breast cancer last year and had to go through rounds of chemo after her surgery to remove the rest of the cancer cells,” Linthicum said. “This caused her to have no energy nor could she really teach anything to the kids. Her immune system proceeded to become very weak as well.”


Similar to other cancers, breast cancer can affect anyone. “Breast cancer can happen at any age. We’ve had patients in early 20s with breast cancer, and we have patients, I think the oldest diagnosis is over 100-101. I mean, it can happen at any time,” Best said.


Breast cancer awareness month not only helps individuals learn more about the deadly disease but also provides a month full of opportunities to raise funds for breast cancer research.


Caroline Phillips, freshman at TJC, discusses the importance of breast cancer awareness month.


“I never personally had breast cancer myself, but growing up as a teacher’s kid, I always saw overwhelming support from teachers donating toward the cause. Plus, many of them would run marathons or do fun runs for awareness,” Phillips said. “I am thankful even now to exist in a community where this issue is being discussed because even 30 to 40 years ago it would have been a more taboo topic. This is saving lives.”