Since the late 1990s, pink has been synonymous with breast cancer advocacy and awareness. Its success has been both symbolic and tangible.
Today, there’s plenty of awareness. Some argue it’s become a hyped awareness, saturated not only in the color pink, but also in a commercialized and tidy stream of superficiality—concentrated during the month of October.
Despite years of it all, breast cancer remains the most-feared disease by women. Hundreds still die daily; thousands more are still overwhelmed by the complexity of the diagnosis and the volume of information available to them. Others are confused by risk factors, screening guidelines, HRT, and lumpectomies versus mastectomies. A growing number of people—women and men—are simply nonplussed that there’s not more to show from the millions of research dollars that have been spent over decades.
And still no cure, though there are a number of vaccine therapy trials. And questions remain about whether there will be a cure in our lifetime.
Beyond advocacy and awareness, there’s a barely-contained scream for accountability. Where are the study dollars going—specifically? How is this helping in the cumulative space of breast cancer investigation? Why is there so little apparent attention given to prevention? What about the ongoing questions surrounding social and racial disparities? Where does personalized medicine fit in to treatment? Who are the real experts, and where can they be found?
When will breast cancer cease being a month-long bacchanalia in October, and become a year-long engagement of substance and discovery?
Pink isn’t going away. Neither is access to a constant stream of data—misinformation, disinformation and information without dialog—that opens up even more questions about the future of breast cancer research, and its ultimate goal.
Advocacy and awareness have been successful. Right now, pink may need to have a stronger focus on the curation and expert handling, interpretation and dissemination of these data—as well as a strong statement about where it will lead, and when.