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Cancer Awareness Days and Events in October

By Treven Pyles

Posted on October 09th, 2017 in

By virtue of increasingly effective treatment and timely diagnosis, the death rate of female breast cancer has become nearly 40% lower from 1989 to 2015.

- By Treven Pyles

With the exception of skin cancer, breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed malignant disease in women throughout the U.S. At the moment, there are over 3.1 million women with a history of breast cancer in the country, which includes those who are currently undergoing treatment, as well as survivors. By the end of this year, approximately 316,120 new cases will occur, whereas 40,610 women will lose their lives to breast cancer. The disease is estimated to account for 30% of all malignant diseases affecting the female population in 2017. Since October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, numerous non-profit organizations have already begun engaging in commendable endeavors aimed at educating the general public, promoting early detection, supporting people who struggle with breast cancer, and last but not least honoring survivors.

October is also National Liver Cancer Awareness Month, a malignant disease which more than 40,000 people in the U.S. will develop by the end of 2017. World Hospice and Palliative Care Day and National Health Quality Week take place this month as well.

National Breast Cancer Awareness Month

The lifetime risk of developing breast cancer is 1 in 8 for American women, doubling for those who have a first-degree relative diagnosed with it. However, contrary to popular belief, breast cancer is not exclusively a women's disease. While men are considerably less likely to receive a breast cancer diagnosis, they have a 1 in 1,000 risk of developing it. In 2017, breast cancer will affect approximately 2,470 men in the U.S. By virtue of increasingly effective treatment and timely diagnosis, the death rate of female breast cancer has become nearly 40% lower from 1989 to 2015. Nonetheless, breast cancer remains the second leading cause of cancer-related death in women, overtaken only by lung cancer.

Some of the most important risk factors for breast cancer refer to:

  • gender - breast cancer occurs 100 times more frequently in women than in men
  • age - women over 60 are more susceptible to developing breast cancer, as only 10-15% of female patients are younger than 45
  • mutations in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene - the presence of certain inherited gene mutations was found to contribute to the occurrence of up to 10% of breast cancer cases and women with this risk factor are 55-65% more prone to be diagnosed with it than the general female population
  • obesity - excess fat tissue often leads to a significant increase in estrogen levels, which heightens the risk of breast cancer
  • not having children - women who have never given birth, as well as those who had their first child after the age of 35, are more likely to develop breast cancer
  • menstrual history - early onset of menstruation (before the age of 12) and/or reaching menopause after the age of 55 also place women at risk for breast cancer
  • alcohol consumption - when it comes to alcohol, the risk of breast cancer depends primarily on quantity and accordingly, study results have shown that women who consume 3 alcoholic beverages per week have a 15% greater chance of being diagnosed with breast cancer than those who do not drink at all

Since 1985, October has been standing for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. In a thoughtful attempt of raising awareness with regard to breast cancer, multiple non-profit cancer groups throughout the world are striving to spread valuable information concerning the early signs of the disease and the importance of timely detection, as well as to encourage people to support breast cancer research by making a donation or organizing a fundraiser themselves. Every year, the National Breast Cancer Foundation is one of the most active organizations in the U.S. when it comes to breast cancer awareness raising, wholeheartedly committed to reaching as many people as possible through their campaign.

If you, too, would like to participate in National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, there are plenty of ways to get involved and show your support, such as:

  • host a fundraiser, which can be either in-person or individual, to offer women free educational resources and help breast cancer research
  • share essential information about breast cancer with other people on social media - the National Breast Cancer Foundation's breast health guide, which you can find on their official website, provides very good educational content in this respect
  • if you suffer from breast cancer or have a loved one who is battling this disease, you are highly encouraged to share your story with the National Breast Cancer Foundation by submitting it along with a photo on their website
  • make a donation to a non-profit cancer organization, such as Living Beyond Breast Cancer, the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, or Susan G. Komen

Metastatic Breast Cancer Day and National Mammography Day are part of the National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The 13th of October was set aside for the former, while the latter is observed every year on the third Friday of the month, namely on October 20th in 2017.

Since 2009, Metastatic Breast Cancer Network has been raising awareness of late stage breast cancer, of which approximately 40,000 Americans die annually. It is estimated that there are currently over 155,000 women and men living with metastatic breast cancer in the U.S. While the disease unfortunately has no cure when it reaches this point, adequate treatment can prolong survival and enhance quality of life tremendously.

National Mammography Day, which has been celebrated annually since 1993, aims to promote early diagnosis in the event a disease occurs, as well as to encourage women to regularly monitor their breast health. Undergoing a mammogram annually after the age of 35 is a very simple and effective way to ensure no abnormalities are affecting your breast tissue. At the moment, there are over 10,000 mammography facilities accredited by the American College of Radiology in the U.S.

Trusted Sources: National Breast Cancer Foundation and Metastatic Breast Cancer Network

National Liver Cancer Month

Liver cancer is the sixth most common malignant disease in the world and the tenth most frequently diagnosed cancer among the U.S. population. Interestingly, the incidence of liver cancer has become 3 times higher since 1980. Nearly 50,000 people are expected to develop primary liver cancer by the end of 2017, whereas over 28,000 will die of this disease. The lifetime risk is triple for American men, for which liver cancer represents the fifth most common cause of cancer-related death. According to World Cancer Research Fund International, reducing alcohol intake and maintaining a healthy weight can prevent approximately 30% of liver cancer cases in the U.S.

Hepatocellular carcinoma and cholangiocarcinoma are the two types of primary liver cancer, the former being significantly more widespread than the latter. If you suffer from liver cancer, you might experience pain in the upper abdomen, weight loss, abdominal swelling, jaundice, nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite, and fatigue. The following factors have been proven to increase the risk of liver cancer to a great extent:

  • heavy alcohol consumption
  • chronic infection with the hepatitis B or hepatitis C virus
  • type 2 diabetes
  • exposure to aflatoxins, vinyl chloride, and thorium dioxide
  • inherited liver diseases such as hemochromatosis
  • cirrhosis
  • long-term use of anabolic steroids
  • tobacco smoking

In October, you can raise awareness of liver cancer by spreading useful information about the disease, wearing emerald green, donating to a cancer research organization focusing on liver cancer, such as the American Liver Foundation or Blue Faery, as well as by sharing your story on social media if you struggle with or beat liver cancer.

Trusted Source: The American Liver Foundation

World Hospice and Palliative Care Day

As the noble initiative of the Worldwide Hospice and Palliative Care Alliance, World Hospice and Palliative Care Day takes place annually on the second Saturday of October. This year, it falls on the 14th of October and the theme is Universal Health Coverage and Palliative Care - Don't leave those suffering behind. The purpose of World Hospice and Palliative Care Day is multifold, including:

  • to increase the availability of hospice and palliative care across the world
  • to gain a better understanding of the medical, practical, social, as well as spiritual needs of people living with incurable or terminal illnesses and their families
  • to raise funds aimed at developing and improving hospice and palliative care services worldwide

Every two years, Voices for Hospices - a series of concerts - is held as a part of World Hospice and Palliative Care Day. If you would like to get involved, you can do so by printing out one of the posters available on the organization's website and displaying it in your workplace, hosting a World Hospice and Palliative Care Day event for your community, or sending a letter to your Minister of Health as a reminder of the importance of quality palliative care services and access to pain-relieving medicine within the national health care system.

Trusted Source: Worldwide Hospice and Palliative Care Alliance

National Healthcare Quality Week

In 2017, National Healthcare Quality Week, a laudable initiative of the National Association for Healthcare Quality which celebrates healthcare quality professionals and their relentless work, will take place between the 15th and the 21st of October. The endeavors of healthcare quality professionals, which are instrumental in the health care system, are unjustly overlooked most of the time, as they work behind the scenes. Some of the challenging tasks healthcare quality professionals are responsible with pertain to:

  • ensuring the safety of patients and reducing the risks they might be facing
  • coming up with improvement initiatives on a regular basis
  • leading population health management
  • incorporating more effective, evidence-based practices into healthcare delivery
  • making sure regulatory and accreditation requirements are met

If you are a healthcare quality professional and would like to participate in National Healthcare Quality Week, we encourage you to take a look at the National Association for Healthcare Quality's official website, where you can find plenty of impactful and practical ideas to raise awareness of your work and show appreciation to your peers.

Trusted Source: The National Association for Healthcare Quality

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