October is here, and for some, that means falling leaves, pumpkin spice lattes, football, and pink ribbons -- pink ribbons everywhere. Our awareness of breast cancer has come a long way since a pharmaceutical company started Breast Cancer Awareness Month back in 1985, but the fact remains that despite the billions of dollars that have been spent on the cause, we’re apparently no closer to the cure than we were before. It’s as if we’re more aware of “breast cancer awareness” than the disease itself.
Most of the research for “the cure” still focuses on the same treatments that are not curing cancer; i.e., chemo, drugs, and radiation. The fact remains that the number of deaths per year from breast cancer has remained around 40,000 for the past two decades, and according to breastcancer.org, one in eight women will develop invasive breast cancer in her lifetime. Awareness doesn’t seem to be changing the numbers.
Some of the money raised goes into promoting mammograms in an effort to find cancer early enough before it has spread. Unfortunately, 90-96% of women who now have metastatic breast cancer were indeed diagnosed at an early stage, so that doesn’t seem to be working either (as important as mammograms are). I can’t help but wonder where we’d be today if all the money that has gone into awareness and marketing went into figuring out what causes breast cancer in the first place and how we can prevent it.