5 things you should know for Breast Cancer Awareness
Each year, October grows a little pinker. Officially established as Breast Cancer Awareness Month in 1985, October is filled with events, public service announcements, and viral challenges designed to raise awareness of this common, pervasive, and serious illness. As we enter Breast Cancer Awareness Month for 2021, here are five facts everyone should know about breast cancer.
Signs and Symptoms Can Mimic Other Ailments
Like many types of cancer, the early symptoms of breast cancer can be vague and mimic other less serious conditions—a bit more fatigue than usual, unexpected weight loss, swollen lymph nodes or a mild fever, slow-healing wounds, or an odd lump that won't go away. After cancer has spread to nearby organs, you may suffer from back pain or trouble breathing. It's always a good idea to have a symptom checked out by a doctor if it doesn't go away on its own within a couple of weeks.
Breast Cancer Isn't Limited to Women
Breast cancer is often thought of as the other side of the prostate cancer coin—a type of cancer restricted to just one sex. However, men can and do get breast cancer, and it's important for men and women to be aware of the warning signs so they can seek treatment early. Each year, more than 2,500 U.S. men are diagnosed with breast cancer; more than 400 men die from this cancer each year.1
Early Detection Improves Survival Rates
When breast cancer is detected early in its development, before it has had a chance to spread to other organs through your lymph nodes, it's highly treatable and almost always survivable. In fact, cancer diagnosed at Stage 1 has a 99 percent five-year survival rate.2 And even after cancer has spread to lymph nodes, it still has an 86 percent five-year survival rate.3 Seeking early diagnosis can be the difference between a short, simple, and successful treatment plan or a long slog through months or even years of radiation and chemotherapy.
Breast Cancer is Incredibly Common
In 2021, one in every three U.S. females who are diagnosed with cancer have breast cancer.4 And over the course of a lifetime, one in eight women will face a breast cancer diagnosis themselves.5 Breast cancer is second only to skin cancer as the top cancer diagnosed in American women.6 Naming October as the national Breast Cancer Awareness Month helps shine a spotlight on this common illness and raises the profile of those who are searching for a cure.
Cancer Insurance Can Defray Treatment Costs
In addition to your health insurance, you may be offered access to a cancer-specific policy or rider. These policies provide additional benefits if you or someone covered under your policy is diagnosed with cancer. Because health insurance may cover only the cost of medical treatment—not the costs associated with having to take time off work, stay in hotels near the hospital, or eat meals on the road—having extra insurance can help reduce the financial strain of cancer diagnosis and treatment.
This blog is up to date as of October 2021 and has not been updated for changes in the law, administration or current events.