Breast Cancer Awareness Month, marked in countries around the world every October, helps to increase awareness of, and support for, the early detection and treatment of breast cancer, a disease that ravages millions of lives each year. It’s a time when we’re all called to take some action to end this illness and for the financial institution community, a time to remind their customers that they’re committed to making that happen.
Globally, there are about 1.4 million new cases and 458,000 deaths from breast cancer each year. According to the CDC, nearly 250,000 women in the US are diagnosed each year and of those, more than 40,000 women die.
Who is Vulnerable?
Most breast cancers are found in women who are 50 years of age and older, but breast cancer also affects younger women. About 10% of all new cases of breast cancer in the United States are found in women younger than 45 years of age. What is behind this trend? Allison DiPasquale, MD, a breast surgical oncologist on the medical staff of Methodist Charlton Medical Center, notes that there are several factors:
- Increased prevalence: It used to be 1 in 12 women were diagnosed with breast cancer, but now Dr. DiPasquale says data shows those numbers to be around 1 in 8.
- Diagnostic technology: Imaging machines with higher sensitivity, like 3D mammography and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), can diagnose women who previously would have been diagnosed much later, or not at all.
- Increased awareness of genetic links: High risk patients with a strong family history of breast cancer are now encouraged by doctors to get screened 10 years prior to the age when the youngest first-degree relative was diagnosed. Those women who are concerned about the cost of screening can check the CDC website and see if they qualify for a free or low-cost mammogram.
All of the above would seem like good news to young women who are diagnosed early. Unfortunately, it isn’t. Compared to older women, young women generally face more aggressive cancers and lower survival rates. More and more evidence tells us that breast cancer before age 40 differs biologically from the cancer faced by older women; it is more aggressive, and subsequently, the survival rates are lower. Additionally, the incidence of metastatic breast cancer at the time of initial diagnosis is apparently rising in women under the age of 40.
What’s the Cause?
As of today, we know very little about the causes of breast cancer. Most women who get the disease have no known risk factors, and many have no history of the disease in their families. Therefore, early detection of the disease remains the cornerstone of breast cancer control. There are, however, steps that women can take that the CDC believes can help lower their risk, such as exercising and limiting the intake of alchol. These health tips can be found on the CDC website.
What Are the Symptoms?
According to the CDC, there are different symptoms of breast cancer, though some women exhibit no symptoms at all. Symptoms can include:
- Any change in the size or the shape of the breast
- Pain in any area of the breast
- Nipple discharge other than breast milk (including blood)
- A new lump in the breast or underarm
When breast cancer is detected early, and if adequate diagnosis and treatment are available, there is a good chance that breast cancer can be cured. If detected late, however, curative treatment is often no longer an option. In such cases, all that remains is palliative care to relieve the suffering of patients and their families.
What can you do to help?
As a bank that cares about the women in your community, you should consider getting this message out to your customers: Breast cancer is a disease that, together, we can beat, and, that there are concrete steps we can take to make that happen. If you’re looking for ideas on how to participate, the National Breast Cancer Foundation site, nationalbreastcancer.org, is a great place to start. If you’re looking for the messaging that will get this message out to the members of your community, BankMarketingCenter.com is here to help. We just put brand new Breast Cancer Awareness Month creative on our portal.
Let’s put an end to breast cancer, once and for all. We can do it.
About Bank Marketing Center
Here at BankMarketingCenter.com, our goal is to help you with that vital, topical, and compelling communication with customers; messaging that, right now for instance, shows your support for this very important cause.
To view our marketing creative, both print and digital – ranging from product and brand ads to in-branch brochures and signage – visit bankmarketingcenter.com. Or, you can contact me directly by phone at 678-528-6688 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org. As always, I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject.