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October Is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

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October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The purpose of this national campaign, which encompasses a wide range of initiatives conducted by local community organizations, breast cancer advocacy organizations, and major retailers, is to educate the public about breast cancer risk factors, promote screening and prevention, support individuals diagnosed with the disease and their loved ones, and raise funds for breast cancer research. Breast Cancer Awareness Month has been on the national calendar since 1985.1

  • According to the American Cancer Society, approximately 353,510 new cases of breast cancer (297,790 cases of invasive breast cancer and 55,720 cases of ductal carcinoma in situ) will be diagnosed in women in the United States in 2023.2 Aside from nonmelanoma skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common malignancy diagnosed in women in the United States.2 There are currently more than 3.8 million American women with a history of breast cancer, including individuals who are still receiving treatment for their disease, as well as those who have completed therapy.2
  • Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related mortality in American women overall, behind only lung cancer.2 It is estimated that approximately 43,700 women will die from breast cancer in 2023.2 Although survival rates vary based on numerous factors, the overall 5-year relative survival rate for women with breast cancer is 99% for localized disease, 86% for regional disease, and 30% for distant-stage disease, highlighting the importance of early detection and treatment.2
  • It is estimated that approximately 20% to 30% of patients with early-stage breast cancer will have their cancer return as metastatic, even if they were told their early-stage cancer had been “cured.” Another 8% of new breast cancer cases are determined to be metastatic at initial diagnosis.3 In 2009, the US Congress passed resolutions declaring October 13 as National Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day, a time set aside to promote awareness of the need for more research focusing on metastatic disease.4
  • In May 2023, the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) issued new draft recommendations for breast cancer screening that lowered the age at which women should start screening from 50 to 40 years.5,6 From 2009 until recently, the USPSTF recommended that women aged 50 to 74 years with an average breast cancer risk get screening mammograms every other year. The USPSTF did not recommend all average-risk women aged 40 to 49 years be screened but instead advised that women make individual decisions with their providers about starting in their 40s. In revising its previous stance, the USPSTF’s guidelines are now more aligned with the recommendations of most other task forces and organizations.6
  • In 1993, the US Congress designated the third Friday of October as National Mammography Day, an annual event designed to remind women to take charge of their health and schedule a mammogram appointment.7 This year, National Mammography Day will be observed on October 20, 2023.5


  1. Accessed September 13, 2023.
  2. Breast cancer. American Cancer Society. Updated January 12, 2023. Accessed September 6, 2023.
  3. Metastatic breast cancer: a fact a day—31 days of October. Metastatic Breast Cancer Alliance. Accessed September 13, 2023.
  4. A Resolution Designating October 13, 2009, as “National Metastatic Cancer Awareness Day,” S.Res.295, 111th Congress (2009). Accessed September 13, 2023.
  5. Draft recommendation statement: breast cancer: screening. United States Preventive Services Task Force. May 9, 2023. Accessed September 13, 2023.
  6. What to know about new breast cancer screening recommendations. Breast Cancer Research Foundation. June 6, 2023. Accessed September 13, 2023.
  7. Pub L No. 103-370, 108 Stat 3483.

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