Facts and Statistics
Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in American women, second only to skin cancer, according to the ACS. The numbers don’t lie, but the truth about breast cancer is constantly shifting. As treatments improve and discoveries are made, it’s important to stay up-to-date on all the facts. These resources can help you stay informed.
Learn More About Breast Cancer
Thanks to research, breast cancer treatment options are always expanding, and some patients can access treatments that are still in development through clinical trials. These organizations can help you search for current trials and discover which ones may be right for you.
BreastCancerTrials.org This organization uses a matching tool to find the right clinical trial for you based on your health history. You can also browse their catalog, featuring hundreds of ongoing studies.
CenterWatch On this website, you can browse trials by medical condition, treatment name, and location.
Clinical Trials (American Cancer Society) The ACS digs into the details of clinical trials for you. You can also watch videos or read educational articles to learn how trials work on their website.
ClinicalTrials.gov This government-funded search engine gives you access to a database of all current clinical trials and offers instructions on how to sort through their information.
Find NCI-Supported Clinical Trials (National Cancer Institute) This database helps you find clinical trials that have been approved or financed by the National Cancer Institute.
Learn More About Clinical Trials
Community, Coping, and Support
Everyone has a different experience with cancer, but few will tell you they did it without the support of family, friends, or some type of community. Not everyone has a crowd of supportive people in their lives, and even the most attentive friend may not know exactly what you’re going through.
The following organizations seek to fill that gap with peer support programs, online forums, breast cancer support groups, and helplines you can call to speak with an expert about your diagnosis and treatment.
Breast Cancer Now In addition to support groups and an online forum, Breast Cancer Now offers live video education and a breast cancer support app called Becca. Their “Someone Like Me” program can match you with a mentor to walk you through your cancer experience.
CancerCare This organization offers a vast array of services, including counseling, resource navigation, educational workshops, and financial assistance. You can also participate in their virtual events, like their Coping Circle Workshop, or one of their specialized programs, each one being designed for a specific population. Whether you’re young and diagnosed with cancer, a caregiver for a loved one, or you need help caring for your pets after a diagnosis, there’s something for everyone.
Cancer Hope Network Alongside patient assistance, Cancer Hope Network provides emotional support for caregivers. Their eHope blog also offers encouragement from others who have gone through the same diagnosis and treatment.
Cancer Support Community (CSC) The CSC has 190 locations all around the world and they can assist you in finding a support group in your area, connecting with one online, or, if you need a little extra help, you can give their Cancer Support Helpline a call. If English isn’t your first language, this organization also offers bilingual Spanish navigation services to make sure this patient population isn’t left in the lurch.
Cancer Survivors Network (American Cancer Society) This arm of the ACS provides discussion boards for many different cancer types. You can ask questions, read about others’ experiences, and join the conversation.
CaringBridge This platform allows you to create a free website to provide a central location for you to update your family and friends on your treatments, how you’re feeling, and what you need.
Friend for Life Cancer Support Network Friend for Life provides both information and connection through a peer support service and a newsletter to match.
Surviving Breast Cancer (SBC) This organization thrives on connecting people. Whether it’s through online events, such as their “Encourage and Empower Program for the Newly Diagnosed”, or weekly virtual gatherings, like their Movement Mondays, SBC offers plenty of choices for support.
Young Survival Coalition (YSC) The YSC is focused on supporting young adults diagnosed with breast cancer. They host virtual hangouts and offer their Face 2 Face in-person meetings and events for all, including specific support groups for the LGBTQIA+, Black and African-American, and post-mastectomy communities.
When someone gets a breast cancer diagnosis, they can use all the support they can get. But what happens when the people backing their loved ones need help themselves? If a friend or family member has cancer, it can also take an emotional and physical toll on those who care for them most. Fortunately, the following organizations offer information tailored for caregivers, 24-hour helplines, and support groups.
Caregiver Action Network (CAN) CAN provides a caregiver toolbox, with resources like financial and legal tools, and information on the basics of caregiving. Their Care Chat allows you to connect with other caregivers going through the same thing.
Caregivers and Family (American Cancer Society) The ACS wants to help you learn how to care for your loved one, and yourself, through an interactive caregiver resource guide and their caregiver support video series. They also offer assistance on anything from health insurance issues to questions you may have about the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
National Alliance for Caregiving This organization offers free guidebooks on how to care for loved ones with diagnoses of all types, while also taking care of yourself.
Supporting a Loved One (The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center) This organization takes the guesswork out of caregiving by offering an abundance of videos and written content.
Everyone should receive the same level of breast cancer care, but unfortunately, inequalities do exist. Black women experience a 40 percent higher overall mortality rate, despite being diagnosed with breast cancer less often than their white counterparts, according to a study published in October 2022 in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians — in part because of inequities in screening, diagnosis and treatment.
The following organizations are on a mission to fight health disparities by increasing access to screening and treatment for all groups, advocating for better care in underserved communities, and educating the general public on the existence of healthcare inequity.
African American Breast Cancer Alliance (AABCA) In addition to patient education and advocacy, the AABCA provides a forum for people of color to talk about healthcare barriers, concerns, myths, and resources.
Carrie’s TOUCH This organization works to educate the Black community about breast cancer and empower survivors by arranging speaking engagements, health fairs, seminars, home visits, and support groups.
For the Breast of Us The founders of this organization experienced firsthand how difficult it is to get care and information as a woman of color diagnosed with breast cancer. Through social media, online tools, and both in-person and virtual events, they aim to close that breast cancer care gap.
SHARE Cancer Support SHARE provides a variety of virtual educational programs, videos, support groups, webinars, and community outreach to get the word out on breast cancer in BIPOC communities. You can also reach out to their helpline to connect with other survivors and caregivers who’ve had similar experiences and understand what you’re going through.
Sisters Network Inc. Founded in 1994 by Karen E. Jackson, now a 28-year cancer survivor, Sisters Network is the only national breast cancer organization in the United States focused on educating and supporting Black and African-American women diagnosed with the disease. The organization has a financial aid program for women who are actively in treatment, which can be used on anything from rent and utilities, to covering the cost of a mammogram or ultrasound. They also provide mammogram access for those who are uninsured and, on their website, you can also find several educational resources.
Tigerlily Foundation Through their ANGEL Advocacy Program, this foundation trains and empowers patients and families to learn breast cancer law so they can be a voice for change on all levels of government.
TOUCH, the Black Breast Cancer Alliance This organization is working towards the goal of easing the burden of breast cancer in the Black community by helping women find clinical trials, collaborating with healthcare providers and researchers, and education and advocacy within the Black community.
Trials of Color Founder and triple-negative breast cancer survivor Sharon Rivera-Sanchez created Trials of Color to educate the Black community on clinical trials and encourage them to participate. The organization has a “boots on the ground” approach to their advocacy work and often visits underserved communities to raise awareness on breast and colorectal cancer. Their website features more information on breast cancer and how it impacts the Black community, and clinical trials and how to access them. They also have a sister organization, Saving Pennies 4 a Cure, which puts together personal care packages for people receiving treatment.
Another area of health disparity lies in gender identity. A large study review published in May 2023 by Cancer Medicine found that young adults who identify as LGBTQ+ experience more psychological distress and barriers to cancer care than their cisgender peers.
One study in the review found LGBTQ+ participants reported higher levels of depression and anxiety during and after treatment, with survivors reporting higher levels of stress. LGBTQ+ participants also noted a lack of social support in several of the reviewed studies. The following organizations work to address this issue through peer support, helplines, financial assistance, and advocacy.
Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered (FORCE) FORCE offers a private Facebook group, message boards, and a clinical trial database, while also advocating for LGBTQ+ cancer care rights at all levels of government.
LGBTQ+ With Breast Cancer (Living Beyond Breast Cancer) In addition to their support group and helpline, this organization offers conferences, workshops, and financial assistance so every LGBTQ+ person with breast cancer can get the care they need.
National LGBT Cancer Network This group provides cultural competency training for providers so they can better serve the LGBTQ+ community. You can also find a vast resource library, which you can filter by condition, on their website.
National LGBT Cancer Project To push back against health disparities, this organization presents lectures at hospitals and oncology conferences, publishes informative pieces in journals and media, and promotes the inclusion of LGBTQ+ people in clinical trials.
Resources for Men
Breast cancer may be thought of as a female disease, but the ACS predicts that 2,800 new cases of invasive breast cancer in men will be diagnosed in 2023. Breast cancer is less common in men, and men are at risk of ignoring early warning signs of breast cancer because they think their risk is nonexistent. The following resources offer information on the disease and support for men with breast cancer.
HIS Breast Cancer Awareness This organization was founded in 2009 by Harvey I. Singer and Vicki Singer Wolf, siblings who were both diagnosed with breast cancer and both found to have the BRCA2 gene. The organization has its own support group that you can connect with on Facebook, educational resources on male breast cancer on their site, and a blog, where you can read about others’ experiences and find answers to commonly asked questions.
Breast Cancer Screening
Breast cancer screening can’t prevent cancer, but if caught early, the disease is much easier to treat. While only about a third of women diagnosed at a late stage survive longer than five years, almost 98 percent of women diagnosed early live for five years or more, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
You can be screened for breast cancer by your healthcare provider or through imaging, like mammograms, ultrasounds, and MRI scans. Many women also perform monthly breast self-exams . The frequency at which you get screened will largely depend on your age and risk for breast cancer. The ACS recommends women at average risk aged 45 to 54 get a mammogram every year, while women aged 55 or older can opt to get one every other year or continue to get them annually. The following resources can help you better understand the screening process, what you need, and when you need it.
Breast Cancer Treatment and Medications
Starting treatment for breast cancer can feel overwhelming. These helpful resources detail the most common cancer therapies and can help you understand what to expect during treatments like chemotherapy, radiation therapy, targeted therapy, immunotherapy, and surgery.
Learn More About Breast Cancer Treatment
In addition to the treatment plan suggested by your healthcare team, you may want to try out some alternative therapies. These resources can help you navigate the waters of complementary and integrative approaches to treatments, including special diets, nutritional supplements, meditation, and acupuncture.
While no alternative therapy alone can effectively treat cancer, many providers recommend these options alongside traditional treatments to provide symptom relief and maintain your mental health.
Breast Reconstruction Surgery
If your breast cancer treatment involves a mastectomy (the surgical removal of a breast), breast reconstruction surgery may be an option for you. During reconstruction, a breast surgeon can use various methods to insert breast implants under the skin or muscle tissue.
Reconstruction can be performed during your mastectomy procedure, but you can also delay this step for as long as you’d like. The timing of your reconstruction also depends on your breast cancer type and the treatments you may need. The following resources offer more information about breast reconstruction, the different procedure options, and what to expect from surgery and aftercare.
Learn More About Breast Reconstruction
Finding a Breast Cancer Specialist
You’re going to want to be confident that you’re in good hands during your treatment. When searching for a specialist, start by looking for good communication skills and a responsive office staff. The questions you’ll have following a diagnosis, undergoing treatment, and entering remission are inevitable, so connecting with a specialist who can give you the answers you need is crucial. The following resources can help you find a breast cancer specialist fit for you.
Getting Financial Assistance
The latest advances in breast cancer treatment, while lifesaving, come with a price tag. In a study published in October 2018 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, those diagnosed with breast cancer reported out-of-pocket expenses anywhere from $3,500 to over $30,000.
When receiving a breast cancer diagnosis and going through treatment, money should be the last thing you have to worry about. These resources — in addition to many of the organizations above — exist to help ease cancer’s financial burden.
Cancer Financial Assistance Coalition This coalition of organizations offers several types of support, from financial and legal to food and housing. Through its website, you can narrow your search based on your diagnosis, location, and the type of assistance you’re looking for.
Financial and Co-Pay Assistance (CancerCare) The team at CancerCare offers financial aid programs to help you out with costs related to treatment and copayment assistance.
Hope Lodge (American Cancer Society) ACS’s Hope Lodge offers free housing for those who are undergoing treatment in over 30 communities all over the country, providing both a roof over your head and a community for those who’ve been diagnosed with any form of cancer.
Patient Advocate Foundation (PAF) The PAF helps people going through treatment for cancer and other chronic diseases access the care they need, figure out how to pay for treatment, and more through their free Case Management Program. They also offer copay assistance, grants which you can apply for, and scholarship opportunities for those who want to pursue higher education.
Receiving End-of-Life Care
In some cases, breast cancer treatment falls short of its goal, and some may begin to think about end-of-life care. Instead of focusing on aggressive treatments to fight cancer, this care category is focused on symptom management and quality of life. These organizations feel passionate about making the last months, weeks, and days of life as comfortable as possible, and many offer bereavement counseling for loved ones and caregivers.
Hospice Foundation of America This foundation educates the public and health community about end-of-life care, provides online resources to find the right hospice, and gives access to financial assistance.
International Association for Hospice and Palliative Care (IAHPC) Many health professionals know very little about palliative and hospice care, and the IAHPC advocates for this branch of medicine all over the U.S. through seminars, workshops, and research.
National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization For medical providers and patients alike, this organization offers assistance in choosing a hospice and offers a library of content to help you understand what to expect from end-of-life care.