Today is National Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day. Out of the 31 days devoted to educating the public about breast cancer, this is the only day focused on the men and women who will die of the disease.
If you do nothing else this month, buy any pink products, attend an event, or write a check to charity, please pay attention to this one day. That "40,000 die each year" statistic regularly used by organizations to raise money for breast cancer "awareness" refers to people dying from Stage 4 breast cancer. Yet only 2% of all research dollars are directed to metastatic breast cancer.
You need to know these 13 critical facts about the disease:
1. No one dies from breast cancer that remains in the breast. Metastasis occurs when cancerous cells travel to a vital organ and that is what threatens life.
2. Metastasis refers to the spread of cancer to different parts of the body, typically the bones, liver, lungs and brain.
3. An estimated 155,000 Americans are currently living with metastatic breast cancer (also called Stage IV breast cancer). Metastatic breast cancer accounts for approximately 40,000 deaths annually in the U.S.
4. Treatment for metastatic breast cancer is lifelong and focuses on control of the disease and quality of life.
5. About 6% of people are Stage IV from their initial diagnosis.
6. Early detection does not guarantee a cure. Metastatic breast cancer can occur 5, 10 or 15 years after a person's original diagnosis and successful treatment checkups and annual mammograms.
7. 20% to 30% of people initially diagnosed with early stage disease will develop metastatic breast cancer.
8. Young people, as well as men, can be diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer.
9. Like early stage breast cancer, there are different types of metastatic breast cancer.
10. Treatment choices are guided by breast cancer type, location and extent of metastasis in the body, previous treatments and other factors.
11. Metastatic breast cancer is not an automatic death sentence. Although most people will ultimately die of their disease, some will live for many years.
12. There are no definitive prognostic statistics for metastatic breast cancer. Every patient and their disease is unique.
13. To learn more about National Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day on October 13 and to access resources specifically for people living with metastatic breast cancer and their caregivers, visit www.mbcn.org.
Look for the #mbcaware and #metastaticbreastcancer hashtags on social media today. If you're already aware, spread the word by reposting relevant news and articles. Thank you!