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October is observed as “National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (NBCAM) in the United States. Sponsored by the American Cancer Society (ACS), the annual campaign is a unique platform to raise awareness about the importance of early detection of breast cancer. It also offers information and support to those affected by breast cancer and raise funds for research into its cause, prevention, diagnosis, treatment and cure. Breast cancer is by far the most common cancer and the second most fatal cancer in women in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the breast. According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), in 2020 an estimated 276,000 Americans will be diagnosed with breast cancer, and more than 42,000 are likely to die from this disease. It is estimated that about 1 in 8 women in the United States will develop breast cancer in her lifetime. Researchers have identified hormonal, lifestyle and environmental factors that can increase the risk of breast cancer. Many women also develop breast cancer without any known risk factors other than simply being women. However, through early detection and improved treatments, many breast cancers can be effectively treated. If diagnosed early and treated before it spreads, five-year survival rate for breast cancer is 99 percent. Oncologists and other physician specialists need to instruct their clinical staff or medical coding outsourcing service providers to document their diagnosis and medical procedures with the correct medical codes. For error-free clinical documentation of this condition, physicians depend on reliable medical billing and coding companies.

The 2020 month-long campaign aims to honor the resilience of breast cancer survivors and offer heartfelt support and prayers to those currently battling this disease. The campaign aims to encourage women to meet with their physicians and discuss their individual risks for breast cancer. Increased awareness, especially of family history and other common risk factors, preventive care and regular screenings, including mammograms, can help save lives through early diagnosis and prompt treatment. There are several signs and symptoms associated with breast cancer which include – a breast lump or thickening, change in the size, shape or appearance of a breast, changes to the skin over the breast (such as dimpling), peeling, scaling, crusting or flaking of the pigmented area of skin surrounding the nipple (areola) or breast skin and a newly inverted nipple.

Diagnosis of this condition includes a detailed breast examination and other tests and procedures to identify the type and stage of the cancer. Other tests and procedures that are used to diagnose the condition include – breast ultrasound, mammogram, breast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and removing a sample of breast cells for testing (biopsy). Once your doctor has diagnosed your breast cancer, he/she works to establish the extent (stage) of your cancer. In fact, the specific stage of cancer determines your prognosis and further treatment options. Tests and procedures performed to identify the stage of breast cancer include – complete blood count test, breast MRI, mammogram, bone scan, computerized tomography (CT) scan and positron emission tomography (PET) scan. However, not all candidates will need to undergo all these tests and procedures. Physicians may recommend the specific tests and other procedures based on the severity of symptoms and the specific stage of cancer. Treatment for this condition includes – medications, chemotherapy, radiation and surgery to stage the cancer and remove the tumor. Oncology medical billing and coding can be challenging and involves using the specific medical codes for breast cancer diagnosis on your medical claims. The diagnostic tests and other procedures need to be correctly documented using the right medical codes. Medical billing and coding services offered by experienced providers can help physicians use the right ICD-10 codes for their medical billing purposes. ICD-10 codes for breast cancer include –

  • C50 Malignant neoplasm of breast
  • C50.0 Malignant neoplasm of nipple and areola
  • C50.1 Malignant neoplasm of central portion of breast
  • C50.2 Malignant neoplasm of upper-inner quadrant of breast
  • C50.3 Malignant neoplasm of lower-inner quadrant of breast
  • C50.4 Malignant neoplasm of upper-outer quadrant of breast
  • C50.5 Malignant neoplasm of lower-outer quadrant of breast
  • C50.6 Malignant neoplasm of axillary tail of breast
  • C50.8 Malignant neoplasm of overlapping sites of breast
  • C50.9 Malignant neoplasm of breast of unspecified site

The history of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (NBCAM) dates back to 1985. The campaign was first observed in October 1985 as a partnership between the American Cancer Society and the pharmaceutical division of Imperial Chemical Industries (now part of AstraZeneca, producer of several anti-breast cancer drugs). The primary objective behind the campaign was to promote mammography as the most effective weapon in the fight against breast cancer.

Over the years, the scope of the campaign widened, with several activities and events being observed as part of the campaign. Breast cancer patients and survivors are encouraged to share their stories via prominent social media platforms. Pink is the official colour of the event and women are encouraged to wear pink ribbons to show their support to this campaign. Other events that take place as part of the monthly campaign include – displaying posters about breast cancer screening, distributing materials about breast cancer screening at local health fairs, hosting a breast cancer walk with your organization’s members and partnering with local women’s organizations, community groups, and senior centres to reach out to women aged 40 years and older with important information on breast cancer screening.

Take part in NBCAM campaign in October. Spread the word about early diagnosis and encourage communities, organizations, families, and individuals to get involved in this campaign!