Breast cancer is a very serious type of cancer that develops from the breast tissue. It affects every 1 in 8 women. There are a number of reasons why one can be diagnosed with breast cancer and the factors include one’s lifestyle or genetic reasons. The month of October is as Breast Cancer Awareness month.

  A lump that feels different from the rest of the skin is typically the first symptom of breast cancer. In more than 80% of the cases, breast cancer is detected because of a lump. Other symptoms include a change in the breast shape, dimpling of the skin, fluid oozing from the nipple, or a red patch of skin. Some extreme cases may include bone pain, swollen lymph nodes, and shortness of breath or yellow skin. Breast cancer is specific to women and can be caused due to lack of exercise, obesity, alcohol, hormone replacement therapy among other factors.

There are more than 18 types of breast cancer. Breast cancer most commonly develops in cells from the lining of milk ducts and the lobules that supply the ducts with milk. Cancers developing from the ducts are known as Ductal Carcinomas, while those developing from lobules are known as Lobular Carcinomas. The outcome of cancer varies depending upon the type of cancer, how far it has progressed and the age of the person.

People who have a family history of breast cancer are more susceptible of being diagnosed with the disease than others who don’t have a family history. Smoking and drinking alcohol are linked to breast cancer. Drinking in a controlled manner, maintaining proper weight and exercising are few of the preventive measures.

Mastectomy, a pre-emptive surgery, where both the breasts are removed before the diagnosis of cancer, is considered for women with BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation. People with these mutations have a heightened risk for diagnosis of breast cancer eventually.

Before the 20th century, breast cancer was feared and discussed in hushed tones, as if it were shameful. As little could be done with primitive surgical techniques, women tended to suffer silently rather than seeking care. Breast cancer awareness is an attempt by many to raise awareness and reduce the stigma related to it. A pink ribbon is used as a symbol for breast cancer.

The goal of breast cancer awareness campaigns, is to raise the public's brand awareness for breast cancer, its detection, its treatment, and the need for a reliable, permanent cure. Because of breast cancer awareness, more number of mammography and biopsies are being done and as a result, cancer is being detected at an earlier and more treatable stage.

The pink ribbon is usually worn as a badge to honor people who are diagnosed with breast cancer. The month-long campaign, held in the month of October, is usually called Pinktober, the word ‘pink’ coming from the pink ribbon. Breast cancer has been treated as a taboo subject from the start on the time, mostly because of modesty issues. The disease was largely untreatable and that was one of the reasons why it was a taboo subject.

In the early 1950s, The New York Times refused to publish an advertisement for a breast cancer support group, stating that they would not print either the word ‘breast’ or ‘cancer’. When celebrities starting openly admitting about their own health concerns, the stigma around the word ‘breast cancer’ started lifting.

It is time we stand up for fellow females who are diagnosed with breast cancer and stop treating the disease as a social stigma. Breast cancer is a serious disease and people diagnosed need and should get all the support from all of us.