Breast Cancer Awareness Month is upon us again and expect to see the familiar pink ribbons and pink everything else that have become the very recognizable symbol of this very important cause. I’ve always thought the biggest proof of the overwhelming success of this awareness campaign is seeing the NFL and its macho players awash in pink highlights during the month of October. Any time you can get these guys sporting pink gloves, sneakers and towels, you have really become iconic.
Of course all the pink is just symbolism to bring more attention to a very big health issue for women. By getting those pink ribbons and pink highlights everywhere, the hope is that more women will be reminded to get screened and that more money will be funneled into breast cancer research and treatment. It is of course a very important cause. But not one that is without some controversy and political infighting.
Within the Cancer awareness community and the health care community in general, there are those who believe breast cancer is getting way too much attention and their success is hurting other equally important causes. According to NBC News, breast cancer is the Queen of all charities. The top four breast cancer charities take in a combined annual revenue of roughly $256 million according to their tax returns. And the National Cancer Institute (NCI) devoted $572.4 million researching breast cancer according to recent numbers.
Compare that to these numbers NBC News reported:
“By way of comparison, in in the same period the NCI spent $226.9 million studying lung cancer, the leading cancer killer in the U.S., and $73.3 million studying pancreatic cancer, which kills nearly as many patients as breast cancer, usually within a year of diagnosis. Cardiovascular disease, the biggest killer of both men and women, received $381 million.”
So there is definitely a downside to such overwhelming success for the pink campaign tied to breast cancer awareness. People are paying attention to this issue at the expense of other causes. But it is hard to fault the breast cancer awareness and research advocates for being successful in their efforts.
And as many breast cancer awareness supporters point out until breast cancer is eliminated it would be irresponsible on their part to slow down their efforts. More people are definitely aware and more women are indeed getting checked out leading to more cases of early detection and presumably more lives saved. But the problem is even with that and the ubiquitousness of the pink ribbons, gloves, shirts, teddy bears and all that, we seem no closer to an outright defeat of breast cancer.
Yet some argue we shouldn’t be focused on elimination of the disease since that is not likely. As pointed out in the NBC News report:
“Making a correlation between the amount of money spent and medical advances made is virtually impossible, especially for cancer, experts say. The rate of breast cancer incidence has been