October is all about supporting patients and survivors.
It's October, which means it's time for pumpkin spice, prepping for Zoom Halloween, and Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Between COVID-19 and the election, there's a risk that breast cancer might not be at the forefront of your priorities — but there are many ways to make a difference for breast cancer this week, whether it's signing a petition, donating to an organization supporting patients, or volunteering virtually. You can also learn about pinkwashing, or when organizations sell pink merch for awareness (without being transparent about how they support breast cancer research), or talk to your family about your risk of the disease.
There's a lot going on right now, but this may be a particularly crucial year for breast cancer cases. A study published in August in The Lancet Oncology found that scientists expect a "significant" increase in avoidable cancer-related deaths this year, including from breast cancer, because of the pandemic. "Cancer screening has been suspended, routine diagnostic work deferred, and only urgent symptomatic cases prioritised [sic] for diagnostic intervention," the study says. Those diagnostic delays will cost lives, and it's more important than ever to make sure that people pay attention to their breast health.
Here's how to use your time and money to help breast cancer this week.
Maringe, C., Spicer, J., Morris, M., Purushotham, A., Nolte, E., Sullivan, R., Rachet, B., & Aggarwal, A. (2020). The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on cancer deaths due to delays in diagnosis in England, UK: a national, population-based, modelling study. The Lancet. Oncology, 21(8), 1023–1034. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1470-2045(20)30388-0
Scott, L. C., Mobley, L. R., Kuo, T. M., & Il'yasova, D. (2019). Update on triple-negative breast cancer disparities for the United States: A population-based study from the United States Cancer Statistics database, 2010 through 2014. Cancer, 125(19), 3412–3417. https://doi.org/10.1002/cncr.32207