Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Should It Be More Than Pink?

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month in the United States. To support this, the National Football League runs the “A Crucial Catch” Campaign, involving players wearing pink accessories, shoes, gloves and so on, which are auctioned to raise money to fight breast cancer.

This is certainly a worthy cause, and it is good to see such a prominent business as the NFL getting involved. The question, for both the NFL and the American Cancer Society, is where are the other awareness months and events for other forms of cancer?

According to ACS statistics, breast cancer cases form 19.98% of new cancer cases across the US. This is the fourth highest percentage, and translates to approximately 229,060 new cases in 2012. Areas with higher numbers of new cases include the Respiratory system, where Lung Cancer is the biggest cause, Digestive system, where Colon Cancer alone causes 103,170 new cases, and the Genital system, where there are more new cases of Prostate Cancer alone: 241,740.

Given that there are a large number of men in the US and around the world who watch the NFL on Sunday afternoons, would it not be beneficial to use such an opportunity to raise awareness of prostate cancer? Breast cancer, partly due to campaigns such as the Awareness Month, is now one of the most well-known forms of cancer. Why not also try to use such an international platform to spread awareness for other forms of cancer, and raise money for treatment, prevention and cures? According to the ACS report, around 17.42% of breast cancer cases in 2012 are fatal. The number is high, but contrast this with colon cancer, which has a 50.10% death rate, or the 69.57% death rate of ovarian cancer.

There needs to be an increase in awareness of these forms of cancer as well. Possibly through different colours for each one, and then each team can support one cause per game for the month – for example, given the battle that their Head Coach Chuck Pagano is going through against leukaemia, the Colts could wear a colour that would raise awareness of that frightening disease. I would certainly support that. Then every team would be able to do their part, as well as helping to raise awareness of a variety of different forms of cancer, so that the fight can be taken to the entire disease, and there is not a hierarchy placed on which ones deserve more attention than others.

Helping to educate people to the existence of these diseases can be a big step in feeling comfortable enough to see your doctor if you are having health problems – especially for men at risk of prostate cancer. There is a global audience for the NFL, and it could be used to inform people every Sunday, Monday and Thursday night in October.