How To Support Breast Cancer Awareness

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Breast Cancer Awareness Month takes place in October every year. It began in 1985 as a week-long event and was championed by the American Cancer Society and Imperial Chemical Industries. Betty Ford, who was diagnosed with breast cancer while her husband Gerald was president, helped launch the event. Organizers set up national and local events all over the country every October.

This article discusses how to get involved in Breast Cancer Awareness month in your community.

An older Black woman wearing a pink shirt with a pink breast cancer awareness ribbon.

Courtney Hale / Getty Images

Breast Cancer Awareness Goals 

In addition to raising awareness, Breast Cancer Awareness month events provide people with information about the early detection of breast cancer, such as mammograms. The events provide necessary tests and diagnostics to people living in underserved areas, as well as those who do not have the means to get the tests.

More Screening and Improvements in Diagnostic Delays

Breast cancer rates have increased since Breast Cancer Awareness Month started. The increase in cases is tied to an increase in access to screenings. Since more people have access to early detection tests, more breast cancer cases are found early. As a result, the survival rate of breast cancer has drastically improved, and deaths from the disease have been cut nearly in half since the 1980s.

Free or Low-Cost Services

Many people do not have healthcare insurance coverage. The cost of care can be a deterring factor in getting breast cancer screenings because people without insurance may not be able to afford to have them regularly. Breast Cancer Awareness Month aims to change that by getting donations that will help make sure that people who cannot afford screenings can get access to free or low-cost mammograms.


The R.I.S.E. program developed for Breast Cancer Awareness Month is an acronym for all the things that the National Breast Cancer Foundation does to educate and empower people about breast cancer. RISE stands for:

  • Rally In Screening Everyone: This program asks people to take the Mammo Pledge to ensure that all people get mammograms when needed. Donations are collected to help people who need mammograms but can’t afford to get them.
  • Rally In Serving Everyone: This part directs people to where they can volunteer to help serve their community by raising breast cancer awareness.
  • Rally In Supporting Everyone: This part helps support people affected by breast cancer. People looking to get involved can hold virtual or social media fundraisers to raise money.
  • Rally In Sharing Everything: This aspect of the program allows people to spread the word by providing access to the community calendar and hosting their own charity live streams for the National Breast Cancer Foundation.

Breast Cancer Awareness and Risk Factors

A key takeaway of Breast Cancer Awareness Month is that anyone can get breast cancer. That's why it's important to know about risk factors, including:

  • Genetics: Genetic mutations in specific genes known as BRCA1 and BRCA2 are associated with breast cancer.
  • Family History: People who have breast cancer in their family are more likely to develop it than people who do not. 
  • Age: More aggressive breast cancers tend to occur in people younger than age 40 because regular mammogram screenings do not happen until after that age.
  • Race: Non-Hispanic White people are the most likely to develop breast cancer overall, but Black people under age 45 make up the highest number of breast cancer cases.

Ways To Participate

There are many breast cancer charities to choose from if you want to participate in Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Doing your research is important because you want to know where your money will go when you donate. Typically, charities for breast cancer are transparent about how the money is spent.

Here are some other ways to participate:

  • Getting involved in the RISE program
  • Holding events in your community to raise money for a charity of your choice
  • Spreading awareness through your social media channels
  • Talking about regular screenings with your family, friends, and peers
  • Sharing your personal story of breast cancer with others to provide hope and a sense of community and togetherness
  • Purchasing pink ribbons, t-shirts, and other breast cancer awareness merchandise from a reputable charity that uses the profits for the cause
  • Volunteering your time to do community outreach in underserved areas

Tips for Year-round Advocacy

If you don’t want to stop advocating for breast cancer awareness just because October ends, you don’t have to. You can get involved with many organizations or charities, such as the National Breast Cancer Foundation. The organization offers opportunities for year-round outreach and advocacy. You can do this by becoming a Community Ambassador, holding fundraising events, spreading education, and recruiting other volunteers throughout the year. 

Valuable Community Resources 

The National Breast Cancer Foundation offers a variety of resources for people that they can take advantage of, including:

  • Free educational guides that are easily downloadable online
  • A National Mammography Program that helps match people with facilities offering mammograms and other breast cancer diagnostics
  • The Patient Navigator Program helps patients with breast cancer find facilities in their area where they can learn more about the disease and get help with the costs of treatment

Other organizations, such as the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute, also provide resources to help people find screening programs where they live, access information about breast cancer, and get support for coping or financial assistance after being diagnosed with the disease.


Breast Cancer Awareness Month runs throughout October. Its primary goals are to provide information about breast cancer to increase awareness and help people find and access diagnostic testing, which has led to lower death rates for the disease. There are many ways to participate and help others get screened.

A Word From Verywell

Getting involved in Breast Cancer Awareness Month can potentially save lives. Reaching more people through breast cancer awareness allows people to get tested earlier and reduce the death rate. Know your risk factors, get tested, and stay on top of your breast health.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What’s the ultimate goal of breast cancer awareness?

    The goal of breast cancer awareness is to educate people about breast cancer risk factors, tests, and ways to get involved with advocacy. Information empowers people and gives them the tools and knowledge they need to get regular mammograms and screenings for breast cancer, which helps make early detection possible. Early detection of breast cancer is associated with a higher survival rate, so ensuring all people have access to knowledge and care is vital.

  • Is breast cancer common?

    Breast cancer is the second most common type of cancer that affects females in the United States, next to skin cancer. It accounts for roughly 30% of all new cases of cancer found in females every year. The odds that a female will develop breast cancer at some point in their lifetime is roughly 1 in 8.

  • Why do people wear pink for breast cancer awareness?

    Susan G. Komen first developed the pink ribbon for Komen for the Cure®, which is a breast cancer organization named after Susan G. Komen, the only sister of founder Nancy Brinker. Susan G. Komen passed away from breast cancer in 1980. Nancy Brinker developed the organization to help spread awareness and end breast cancer for good. Since then, the pink ribbon and its color have been used as a token for breast cancer awareness.

9 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  5. American Cancer Society. Breast cancer risk and prevention.

  6. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. What are the risk factors for breast cancer?

  7. U.S. Breast Cancer Statistics.

  8. American Cancer Society. Key statistics for breast cancer.

  9. Susan G. Komen. Our mission and history.

By Angelica Bottaro
Angelica Bottaro is a professional freelance writer with over 5 years of experience. She has been educated in both psychology and journalism, and her dual education has given her the research and writing skills needed to deliver sound and engaging content in the health space.