Breast Cancer Awareness Month in Malaysia
As we are currently combatting a global pandemic, let’s not forget that there is a disease that is far deadlier than COVID-19: breast cancer. As October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month (BCAM), also known as Pinktober, let us take a look at the reason why we should raise more public awareness about this issue.
Breast Cancer in Malaysia
According to the World Health Organisation’s International Agency for Research on Cancer, breast cancer is the single most reported form of cancer in Malaysia in 2018. It is almost a third of all cancers reported among women, and it is the second leading cause of cancer deaths among women following lung cancer. The Breast Cancer Foundation Malaysia says that 1 in 19 Malaysian women are at risk of getting this disease. The majority of cases were reported in women between 40 to 60 years old, and unfortunately, nearly 40% of newly identified cases are already in very advanced stages, lowering the survival rate by a lot. Male breast cancer, although extremely rare at about 1.6% of all breast cancer cases, is still something that actually occurs, and is usually present in men above 60 years old.
There are several risk factors tied to this cancer, and most of these have to do with lifestyle choices. Factors for it are similar for both men and women: old age, exposure to oestrogen, family history of the disease, obesity, and alcohol consumption.
What Can We Do?
Women are encouraged to conduct a monthly regular self-examination to check for unusual lumps, and those aged 40 and above are also encouraged to go for mammograms at least once every two years. Instructions for self-examination can be found here:
The pink ribbon has been adopted as the international symbol for breast cancer awareness. Thus, for the month of October, you can wear a pink ribbon or pink clothing to spark a conversation towards raising awareness on the topic. Encourage women to conduct self-exams or go for mammograms.
Many fashion brands, both local and international, have taken to promoting BCAM by creating new collections not only to raise awareness through bold fashion statements; they would also donate the proceeds from the sales to a charity that deals with breast cancer in some way or form, either through research or through local clinics. Here are just a couple of highlights to showcase local and international efforts.
Malaysian designer Alia Bastamam has been supporting BCAM for the last five years, and this year she has teamed up with Sofia Haron to come up with a limited edition series called Awaken that is exclusively sold on her website, ALIA B, where 100% of the proceeds from the sale will go to the National Cancer Society Malaysia (NCSM).
American makeup company Estee Lauder launched The Breast Cancer Campaign in 1992 in conjunction with the iconic Pink Ribbon. Since then, their campaign has raised more than RM368 million with a majority of the money going towards close to 300 research grants through the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Today, they have launched a couple of limited edition collections, where the proceeds (either in part or in whole) will go towards the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. The Advanced Night Repair is a new serum, and is sold together with a limited edition collectible Pink Ribbon bracelet; 20% of the retail price will be donated to the charity. The Pink Perfection Lip Kit is a set of two different-coloured lipsticks and one lip balm in a carrying bag; 100% of the retail price goes to the charity.
Apart from raising awareness through fashion and beauty, one of the most powerful mediums today is via social media. Share articles and insights, post up your thoughts and upload photos or even artwork of your own to drive discussions about the topic to keep people well informed and serve as a reminder for this important health topic.
How much do you know about breast cancer? Do you have any stories to share about it, whether it’s a personal story or if it involves someone you know? Share them with us in the comments section below. Visit the Breast Cancer Foundation Malaysia to donate to them or if you are seeking more detailed information with regards to breast cancer, its diagnoses, treatments, etc.
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