Breast cancer awareness saves lives


Graphic courtesy of Sophie Bruch

Jack Barlett

As I’m sure you’ve noticed from all the posters up, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month (BCAM). Established in 1985, Breast Cancer Awareness Month brings in a lot of money in donations. Since it began in 1985, breast cancer research has become the best-funded out of all cancer research efforts, with over $460 million per year in funding. 

But now, some people have been calling for a change to this month of awareness. Breast cancer is only the 3rd most common type of cancer, after all, and the most common type (lung cancer) gets less than $100 million a year for research. Should BCAM be turned into a month bringing awareness to another type of cancer, or just a general ‘Cancer Awareness Month’? In my opinion, absolutely not.

But let’s start with the facts.

Lung cancer, which is the most common type of cancer, kills over 150,000 a year. Despite this, funding for lung cancer research is still far outpaced by breast cancer. In fact, the lack of research into treatments for lung cancer is cited by doctors as a major reason why less than 20% of lung cancer patients will survive past 5 years. Although breast cancer deaths have decreased in recent years, lung cancer researchers would be able to save a lot of lives if given the same amount of funding as breast cancer researchers.

However, there’s still work to be done into breast cancer research. In the past 30 years, deaths from breast cancer have declined by over 40% due to advanced treatment and early detection methods. These options would not be possible if it were not for the outpouring of support and donations caused mainly be the existence of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. BCAM has saved hundreds of thousands of lives, and that momentum needs to keep going. If the same level of funding is granted to these researchers going forward, they believe that percentage could increase by a lot.

Now that I’ve shown you arguments from both sides of the coin, let me explain my opinion. I believe that BCAM needs to be held in such high regard, because breast cancer still kills over 40,000 people each year. Researchers need the funding they’ve been receiving in order to save the lives of the people who are suffering, and to prevent more people from dying. Just because there are lives to be saved elsewhere doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t save lives in this way. That just wouldn’t be fair to the people who are suffering, and their family.

That doesn’t mean I think that other cancers should be just ignored. Just like it wouldn’t be right to cut funding to breast cancer research, it’s not right to just forget about other cancers. There are many cancer awareness months in the year, not just October. In fact, every month but August and December is dedicated to at least one type of cancer awareness. September is actually dedicated to seven different cancers. If you or a loved one have suffered from any type of cancer, you shouldn’t feel afraid to speak about or spread awareness to that type of cancer. This world has a lot of problems, and you can’t always see all of them. That’s why spreading awareness is important, no matter if it’s something people fight every day of something you’ve never heard of. •