Although it’s very difficult to track how much is given each year to Breast Cancer Research overall, it has been estimated that Americans contributed about $6 billion in 2012. That is a pretty big number by itself, but considering how much Americans give to all charities each year (~$300 billion), it looks a lot smaller. Nevertheless, with all the money being raised each year in the name of Breast Cancer, one might be asking, what are we getting for the money?
First of all, most of the money raised is going to research for prevention, developing new treatments, improving existing treatments, and improving screening equipment & techniques. Still, there are other programs and whole breast cancer charities that focus on building support communities for patients and their families. These are just examples in general, but there are a lot more. As you begin to look more deeply into where the money actually goes, you begin to see the overall impact for patients and their families.
According to the American Cancer Society, between 1975 and 2010, and probably the most important factor, is that the survival rate (for breast cancer) patients has increased significantly. In large part, this is due to better and more available screening, and the introduction of new and better treatments. However, as the chart shows, African American women as a group are lagging behind because of several factors: 1) Poverty; 2) Less Education; and 3) lack of health insurance.
While researchers are working hard every day to find a permanent cure, by far, the best way to survive is still early detection, which has increased to over 90% during the last 20 years. The American Cancer Society recommends that women receive an annual mammogram beginning at age 40. It is especially important that women are regularly screened to increase the chance that a breast cancer would be detected early before it has spread. Recommended screening intervals are based on the duration of time a breast cancer is detectable by mammography before symptoms develop.
By the way, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that within the monies raised each year, there’s a portion that unfortunately goes to “sham” charities that are out to really just line their own pockets with money. It’s a real shame that there are always people out there that are unscrupulous and just outright despicable. The good news is YOU have control by investigating who you donate to. Most reputable charities are rated right here: http://www.guidestar.org/AdvancedSearch.aspx. Guidestar.org is a non-profit organization that tracks all IRS-Registered non-profits and charities.