Get Started Search Icon

Is October Breast Cancer “Awareness” or “Industry” Month?

Updated October 20, 2021

By John McDougall, MD

October is commonly known as “Breast Cancer Awareness Month.” This is an annual, international campaign organized by major charities to increase the awareness of breast cancer and to raise funds for research. A lot of awareness has been created, but unfortunately there has been no useful progress made in finding the cause, or for effectively preventing, treating or curing breast cancer. The campaign’s efforts have, however, increased the number of women diagnosed with breast cancer, primarily by encouraging mammograms, and the use of powerful treatments, such as surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. The conflicts of interest between businesses sponsoring breast cancer awareness campaigns while at the same time profiting from breast cancer diagnosis and treatment have resulted in October also being known as “Breast Cancer Industry Month.”

The same year that the Breast Cancer Awareness Month campaign was founded (1985) as a team effort between the American Cancer Society and a pharmaceutical company (AstraZeneca), I wrote McDougall’s Medicine: A Challenging Second Opinion. This book includes a comprehensive chapter on the testing and treatment of breast cancer. After reading this scientifically backed material (click the link over the book cover) you will be shocked to learn that medical doctors and scientists have known for more than 30 years about the harms that are still being done to women. Countless women have been subjected to life-damaging fear, testing, biopsies, radiation, breast amputations, drugs, and death, with little, if any, improvement in the quality or quantity of their lives. The reason this inhumanity continues is that the business of diagnosing and treating breast cancer generates a great deal of money for medical practices, far more than would be generated through alleviating women’s suffering.

Three major articles that made worldwide headlines were published in 2015 during Breast Cancer Awareness Month (October), proving that the ineffective ways women have been cared for is widely known. McDougall’s Medicine: A Challenging Second Opinion shows you that this is old news.

The first article was published in JAMA Oncology and was a 20-year study of more than 108,000 ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS)* patients who had undergone treatment. The headline-grabbing news was the finding that there was no significant difference in survival among women who had a mastectomy, a lumpectomy, or a lumpectomy followed by radiation. Surgery and/or radiation do not save lives (not even for women with invasive cancer).

The second article was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association and was new advice from the American Cancer Society for when and how often women should have mammograms. This organization now recommends that most women should start annual screenings at age 45 rather than at 40, and also advises switching screening to every other year at 55. This update also recommends no routine physical breast exams to be performed by doctors, concluding that there is no evidence that these exams save lives.

The third study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine and found the rate of cancers that have spread beyond the breast when detected has stayed stable since 1975, meaning that mammograms are not preventing the most deadly (metastatic) forms of breast cancer.

 McDougall’s Medicine: A Challenging Second Opinion can be ordered as a PDF and found in libraries and secondhand bookstores. However, you can read the chapter on breast cancer now by clicking on the book cover above.

*DCIS refers to the formal name, ductal carcinoma in situ. This condition is also referred to as stage 0 breast cancer. The implication is that the abnormal “cancer appearing” cells remain in the milk ducts and show no evidence of spread to other parts of the body. Because the cells have not spread, DCIS is really not cancer. Many doctors and scientists are calling for a new name for this condition in an effort to reduce the fear and over-treatment caused by the word “cancer.”