Breast Cancer Awareness Month is an annual campaign that takes place all through October, raising awareness of breast cancer and prevention. The campaign largely focuses on using mammograms as an effective screening method. Begun in1985, it has grown with the help of devoted individuals and corporate sponsorships into a worldwide effort. The events that take place during October encourage women to check themselves regularly, see their doctors, and remain vigilant against breast cancer, while also celebrating the vitality of survivors who are recovering from the disease.
Breast Cancer Awareness Month began in 1985 when drug manufacturer AstraZeneca began a campaign to raise awareness of mammograms as the most effective detection option for women. AstraZeneca, an Anglo-Swedish company, manufactures the breast cancer drugs Arimidex and Tamoxifen.
The Pink Ribbon, which has become the most recognized symbol of breast cancer awareness, was unveiled in 1993 by Evelyn Lauder, founder of the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and senior corporate vice president of Estee Lauder. The pink ribbon was first used by the Susan G. Komen Foundation in 1991 at a New York City foot race for survivors of the disease.
Although the National Race for the Cure is connected to Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the race actually began two years before the awareness month. The first race was held in Dallas, Texas, in 1983. Like National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the race has always been run in October.
The race takes place in cities outside of the U.S., where it is known by a variety of names. For instance, in Bulgaria, it is called the Breast Cancer Walk; in Italy it is Komen Italia Race for the Cure; and in Australia and New Zealand it is known as the Dove Pink Star Walk.
Other Breast Cancer Awareness Month events largely consist of two-day and three-day-long walks. Generally, these events have corporate sponsors and they are held in many cities all around the world, particularly in the U.S. and Europe.
Many of these events involve physical activity that has been shown to decrease a woman’s chance of developing many types of cancers, while giving breast cancer survivors the opportunity to show they are still strong women who can participate in strenuous activities like long-distance running. Other events include conferences and a fashion show that is held in Greece and supported by Avon.
Some have argued that National Breast Cancer Awareness Month focuses too narrowly on breast cancer prevention instead of treatment. Critics of the movement argue that it blames the victim instead of supporting research for a cure that would decrease the incidence of cancer in women around the world.
Some critics also argue that the corporate sponsors who support Breast Cancer Awareness Month are the same companies that manufacture products that have been linked to increased instances of breast cancer in women.