Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

According to the National Cancer Institute, more than 280,000 women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer and some 43,600 will die of the disease in 2021. In addition, an estimated 2,650 men are expected to be diagnosed with breast cancer and 530 will die of the disease this year.

Breast cancer is the most common type of non-skin cancer in women in the United States, accounting for 15 percent of all new cases. And it is second to lung cancer as a cause of cancer death in American women. 

There are a number of different types of breast cancer. The most common form of breast cancer is ductal carcinoma, which begins in the cells of the ducts. Cancer that begins in the lobes or lobules is called lobular carcinoma and is more often found in both breasts than are other types of breast cancer. Inflammatory breast cancer is a rare type of breast cancer in which the breast is warm, red, and swollen.

Being female and older in age are the main risk factors for breast cancer. Other risk factors include estrogen (made in the body), dense breast tissue, age at menstruation and first birth, taking hormones for symptoms of menopause, smoking, obesity, and not getting enough exercise.

Hereditary breast cancer makes up 5 percent to 10 percent of all breast cancer diagnoses. Women who have certain gene mutations, such as mutations in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes, have an increased risk of developing breast cancer and ovarian cancer. 

Men can also develop breast cancer, making up slightly less than 1 percent of those diagnosed each year. Radiation exposure, high levels of estrogen, and a family history of breast cancer can increase a man’s risk of the disease.

What is the AACR Doing in this Area?

The San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium

The annual San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium is presented by the AACR, the Cancer Therapy & Research Center at UT Health Science Center San Antonio, and the Baylor College of Medicine. This year’s SABCS® will be held December 7 – 10, 2021, offering attendees the opportunity to participate in-person or virtually. The four-day scientific conference is geared to an international audience of basic scientists, physician-scientists, clinical investigators, and breast care providers, as well as patient advocates seeking an exchange of new information in experimental biology, etiology, prevention, diagnosis, and therapy of premalignant breast disease and breast cancer.

The AACR, an SABCS cosponsor, honored two renowned researchers for their work in breast cancer at the 2020 SABCS held virtually December 8-11.

Susan E. Hankinson, ScD, MPH, is the recipient of the 2020 AACR Distinguished Lectureship in Breast Cancer Research award, supported by Aflac Inc. Dr. Hankinson is a distinguished professor of epidemiology and associate dean for research in the School of Public Health & Health Sciences at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Dr. Hankinson is being recognized for her contributions to fundamental population-based research that has provided insights into the hormonal etiology of breast cancer.

Sherene Loi, MBBS, FRACP, PhD, FAHMS received the 2020 AACR Outstanding Investigator Award for Breast Cancer Research, supported by the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Dr. Loi is a consultant medical oncologist specializing in the treatment of breast cancer, the medical oncology trial lead for breast cancer at the Parkville Cancer Clinical Trials Unit, and head of the Translational Breast Cancer Genomics and Therapeutics Laboratory at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. She is also a professor at the University of Melbourne and a National Breast Cancer Foundation of Australia Endowed Chair. Dr. Loi is being recognized for her leadership in integrating translational research into clinical trials and bringing immunotherapy to the breast cancer treatment arena. 

The 2021 AACR Outstanding Investigator in Breast Cancer Research Award and  AACR Distinguished Lectureship in Breast Cancer Research will be presented at the upcoming SABCS in December.


In 2021, the AACR has awarded research 9 grants to investigators pursuing promising research related to breast cancer research.