October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, an annual international campaign aimed at increasing awareness of this common disease, with the long-term goal of someday ending it entirely. Although deaths from breast cancer continue to decline, they’re falling at a slower rate than in previous years, and the number of cases we’re seeing is rising. It is important that we take this opportunity to talk about breast cancer facts, warning signs and risks, treatment options, and more.
Each year in the United States, over 250,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer and more than 42,000 lose their battle with this terrible disease. The American Cancer Society estimates that around 276,480 new cases will be diagnosed this year with 42,170 deaths. Breast cancer is not as nearly as common among men as it is with women, but it is still possible for men to develop this disease. An estimated 2,620 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2020.
Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths among women in the U.S., and there are currently more than 3.5 million breast cancer survivors across America. Although certain risk factors like age, gender and genetics cannot be prevented, there are some steps you can take to lower your risk of developing breast cancer. The American Cancer Society says maintaining a healthy body weight and exercising regularly can help. It’s also essential to visit your doctor for regular screenings if you are above the age of 40.
Every summer, female members of Congress play against the women of the Washington press corps in the friendly, yet competitive, Congressional Women’s Softball Game. This annual occasion is a charity event that benefits breast cancer survivors. Although this year’s game was canceled due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, I am honored to have had the great privilege to participate in years past throughout my time in Congress. I’m inspired by this bipartisan group of women who come together – putting politics aside – to focus on bringing attention to this dreaded disease.
If you are currently battling breast cancer or have lost a loved one to this disease, please know that my prayers are with you. Please take the time this month to expand your knowledge surrounding breast cancer. For more information, visit https://www.cancer.org/cancer/breast-cancer.html.
Martha Roby represents Alabama’s Second Congressional District. She lives in Montgomery, Alabama, with her husband Riley and their two children.