October is observed as “National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (NBCAM)” each year in the United States in order to raise widespread public awareness about breast cancer, the second leading cause of cancer death among American women. According to the American Cancer Society (ACS) (2015 statistics) about 231,840 new cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed in women and about 40,290 women will die from this disease. It is estimated about 1 in 8 (12%) women in the US will get breast cancer at some point in their lifetime. Generally, this condition affects women above 40 years of age. The American Cancer Society recommends that women should undergo breast cancer screening tests at an early age (right from their early 50s or sooner) as these tests help to identify this condition early so that more effective treatment can be provided. Physicians need to identify the symptoms accurately in order to provide adequate treatment at the right time. If diagnosed early and treated before it spreads, the five-year survival rate for breast cancer is 98 percent. Besides providing appropriate treatment, providers need to ensure that medical coding for this condition is appropriately done on the medical claims. Since even minor coding mistakes may result in erratic information and claim denials, opting for physician billing services from an established medical billing company would be a practical solution.
The first Breast Cancer Awareness Month was initiated in the US in 1985 as a partnership between the American Cancer Society and the pharmaceutical division of Imperial Chemical Industries (maker of several anti-breast cancer drugs). The primary aim behind this event was to increase the early detection of breast cancer by encouraging women to have mammograms, an X-ray of the breast to detect abnormalities in the breast tissue. Early detection may help in more effective treatment thereby preventing this condition from spreading to other areas of the body.
Over the years, the focus of this campaign widened and a number of organizations based in the US and other countries started supporting this international health awareness campaign. With the founding of the Breast Cancer Research Foundation in 1993, the pink ribbon was chosen as the official symbol for this campaign.
As part of this annual campaign, a variety of events including educational programs, informational pamphlets and posters and fund-raising activities such as walks, runs, auctions, concerts, and other charity events are held across the country. Individuals and organizations can spread the word about the steps women need to take to detect breast cancer early:
- Display posters about breast cancer screening in your organization’s break room.
- Ask health professionals from a local hospital or clinic to share information about mammograms and early detection with your employees or members.
- Distribute materials about breast cancer screening at a local health fair.
- Partner with local women’s organizations, community groups, and senior centers to provide women aged 40 and older with important information on breast cancer screening.
Join “Breast Cancer Awareness Month” celebration. Take steps to increase awareness about this condition, to educate people about methods of prevention and early detection.