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Breast Cancer Advocacy History – Interesting Facts

Beacon Advocates Blog Posts - Breast Cancer Advocacy History – Interesting Facts

As a symbol for breast cancer awareness, the pink ribbon has gained a high degree of visibility. This is especially the case in October, which is the official Breast Cancer Awareness Month. That is why we are having a look at some interesting facts about breast cancer advocacy history.

Milestones of Breast Cancer Research and Breast Cancer Advocacy History

The history of Cancer, Breast Cancer, as well as Breast Cancer Advocacy is long and complex and involves the achievements of many scientists and activists. Therefore, the following is simply an overview of a few prominent examples, and by no means a comprehensive list.

For further reading, please have a look at our link list at the end of this post. You can also find an interesting historic overview regarding the medical treatment of cancer/breast cancer on WebMD.

ca. 1600 BC – first known mention

460-25 BC – origin of the words “cancer” and “oncology”

  • Hippocrates (460-370 BC), the “Father of Modern Medicine” uses the Greek words “carcinos” and “carcinoma” to describe ulcers
  • Galen (130-200 AD), a Greek physician, uses the Greek word “oncos (swelling) to describe tumors, from which the term “oncology” (the study of cancers) is derived.
  • Celsus (28-50 BC), a Roman physician, translates Hippocrates’ words into “cancer” (Latin for “crab”)

1749-1806 – first surgical removal

First surgical removals of cancer-affected breast tissue and chest muscles by Scottish surgeon Benjamin Bell and French surgeon Jean Louis Petit.


The US surgeon William Stewart Halsted publishes “The Results of Operations for the Cure of Cancer of the Breast Performed at the Johns Hopkins Hospital from June, 1889, to January, 1894

The surgeon Willy Meyer (born in Germany, later emigrated to the US) publishes “An improved method of the radical operation for carcinoma of the breast.”


Foundation of the Susan G. Komen® organization by Nancy G. Brinker in memory of her sister Susan, who had passed away as a result of breast cancer. Since then, the organization has “grown into the world’s largest nonprofit source of funding for the fight against breast cancer.” Due to the work of the organization, the famous Pink Ribbon has become an international symbol for breast cancer awareness.


Foundation of the National Breast Cancer Foundation by breast cancer survivor Janelle Hail with the “mission to educate other women about breast cancer and the importance of early detection.”


National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (NBCCEDP): The CDC provides “low-income, uninsured, and underinsured women across the United States” with breast/cervical cancer screenings and other related diagnostic services (either free or low-cost).

Beacon Advocates: Your Cancer Care Advocates

Whether you are a breast cancer patient or dealing with any other form of cancer – you are not alone! Find out more about how the dedicated Beacon Advocates team can support you during your cancer care journey. Contact us for an appointment, and let’s get started!

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