Breast Cancer Awareness Month begins

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, when organisations and individuals around the world come together to highlight the importance of awareness, education and research.

But this year’s campaign will be very different to those of previous years. The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in major changes to daily life.

Although most people are at risk of contracting the virus, those with cancer are at far greater risk of serious complications if they do. This could make it more challenging to mark Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Cancer and coronavirus

Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in the UK, with around 55,000 women and 370 men diagnosed with the disease every year, according to Breast Cancer Now.

The charity also said that roughly 11,500 women die from breast cancer each year, with almost all of these deaths caused by secondary breast cancer, where the disease has spread to another part of the body, such as the bones, liver, lungs or brain.

A new survey by Breast Cancer Now found that women with secondary breast cancer are experiencing “significant fears for their ongoing survival” as coronavirus causes delays to cancer treatment.

Various cancer trials and treatments have been paused while Covid-19 is still a threat. In many cases, chemotherapy and other forms of treatment have been suspended during the virus outbreak to give those with cancer a chance to boost their immune systems. It is hoped this will help them fight off the virus.

Some people with cancer are more at risk of serious illness if they contract Covid-19. These include:

  • People receiving chemotherapy
  • People receiving immunotherapy
  • People receiving targeted cancer treatments, such as PARP inhibitors

As the coronavirus pandemic is causing huge concern for breast cancer sufferers, it is even more vital that they have access to support.

Fundraising during a crisis

Despite the pandemic putting a stop to some forms of fundraising and certain events to raise awareness about breast cancer, it’s still possible to contribute to the campaign.

Cancer Research UK’s Race for Life events may have been cancelled to avoid close contact, but the charity has set up Race for Life at Home. The aim is to encourage people to get involved in their own way, choosing a 5k or 10k walk or run to raise funds.

Michelle Mitchell, chief executive of Cancer Research UK, explained: “Cancer hasn’t stopped and we’re determined to keep making progress for those affected, who need our support more than ever. We’re urging people to sign up to Race for Life at Home and join our amazing Race for Life community.”

Virtual coffee mornings and other online events are taking place throughout October, giving people the chance to get together while socially distancing.

Friday 23 October is also wear it pink day. This is the month’s main event, giving people the chance to wear pink to raise awareness and show support for people living with breast cancer. Events to mark the day can be held at work, at school or in the community. This year’s events will likely be held online, so charities are encouraging organisers to get creative.


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