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Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Updated: Feb 5

The month of October is designated Breast Cancer Awareness Month to increase awareness of the disease, educate people about early detection and prevention methods, and raise funds for research. Breast cancer awareness is symbolized by the pink ribbon worldwide.

The first organised campaign to raise awareness of breast cancer started in October 1985 in the United States. Over the years, campaigns have been launched worldwide.

  • Breast cancer is now the leading cause of global cancer incidence in 2022, surpassing lung cancer.

  • The number of new cancer cases is estimated to be 2.3 million, representing 11.7% of all cases of cancer.

  • With 685,000 deaths, breast cancer is the fifth leading cause of cancer mortality worldwide.

The World Health Organization provides the following statistics and information :

  • There were 7.8 million women alive in 2020 who had been diagnosed with breast cancer in the past five years.

  • Despite increasing rates in later life, breast cancer occurs in every country of the world in women at any age after puberty.

  • The incidence of breast cancer among men is approximately 0.5-1%.

  • “Age-standardized breast cancer mortality in high-income countries dropped by 40% between the 1980s and 2020. Countries that have succeeded in reducing breast cancer mortality have been able to achieve an annual breast cancer mortality reduction of 2–4% per year. The strategies for improving breast cancer outcomes depend on fundamental health system strengthening to deliver the treatments that are already known to work.”

The importance of annual health check-ups and screening to detect cancer early is highlighted by the Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA) in a media release, Breast Cancer Screening can Save Lives (26 September 2022). The article provides practical information on clinical breast examinations as well as fundraising initiatives. The Fact Sheet on Breast Cancer published by the World Health Organization provides useful details on risks factors, symptoms and signs, treatments and the global impact of the disease.

Treatable breast cancer is included in the Prescribed Minimum Benefits (PMB) regulations under DTP 950J.

View the following resources for more information on breast cancer awareness:

  1. American Cancer Association. Breast cancer.

  2. American Cancer Association. Breast cancer in men.

  3. Breast Health Foundation.

  4. Cancer Association of South Africa. Breast cancer.

  5. Cancer Assocation of South Africa. Breast cancer screen can save lives. 26 September 2022.

  6. Carneir, Márcia Mendonça. Reflections on Pink October. 2021 61(10) Women & Health

  7. Department of Health. Breast Cancer Awareness Month 2022.

  8. Global Breast Cancer Resources for Patients, Survivors, and Their Loved Ones

  9. Rogers, Kara. Breast Cancer Awareness Month. ­ Encyclopedia Britannica, 10 Nov 2020

  10. The Gori Law Firm. Seniors and Mesothelioma.

  11. The Lanier Law Firm. Mesothelioma Treatment. 

  12. The Mesothelioma Center. Asbestos awareness - the dangers of asbestos exposure.

  13. Sung, H. [et al.] 2021. Global cancer statistics 2020: GLOBOCAN Estimates of incidence and mortality worldwide for 36 cancers in 185 countries. 71(3) CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians

  14. Western Cape Government. Breast cancer awareness.

  15. World Health Organization. Fact Sheet: Breast cancer. 2022.

Date posted: 1 October 2022

Updated: 5 February 2024

Image: Wix


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