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Prostate cancer under the radar while breast cancer is sexualized

by Breonnah Colon- Campus Talk Editor
Tue, Sep 26th 2017 05:00 pm
Photo from Flickr
Save people, not tatas. Some
breast cancer awareness campaigns have been
criticized for sexualizing the disease.
Photo from Flickr Save people, not tatas. Some breast cancer awareness campaigns have been criticized for sexualizing the disease.
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The month of October is quickly approaching and this may mean different things for different people. Maybe, it is finally getting a sense that fall has arrived, that Halloween is around the corner or because it is Hispanic Heritage month. One of the many titles the month of October holds is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The month is often full of different fundraisers and charity events which raise funds either for spreading awareness or furthering research to better understand and combat the illness. 

The pink ribbon associated with the issue has become almost synonymous with October for many and with good reason; according to breastcancer.org, approximately one out of every eight women, or 12 percent of women in the United States, will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. 

Cancer of any kind is a serious issue. In addition to the stress of dealing with the illness, there’s also the heavy financial burden that comes with treatment if patients seek it. According to dailworth.com, the average cost of breast cancer treatment is between $20,000 and $100,000 per family. With 12 percent of the overall population of women in the country apt to be diagnosed with breast cancer, one can only imagine how many families are struggling to pay breast cancer-related medical bills. 

Due to the prevalence of breast cancer and the impact it has on the lives of those diagnosed with it, it is quite easy to understand why there is a whole month dedicated to spreading awareness, information and hosting fundraisers for the issue. It seems nothing less than logical that such precaution and proaction would take place in light of the effects of this type of cancer in particular; however, that is not the case for all issues of similar standing. 

Prostate cancer is an equally aggressive cancer, which impacts slightly more men than breast cancer does women. Approximately one out of every seven men will be diagnosed with the disease, according to cancer.org. The cost for treatment of prostate cancer ranges anywhere between $10,000 and $135,000, a cost that very closely resembles that of breast cancer. Yet despite the similarities in the number of people diagnosed as well as the cost of treatment, prostate cancer is not as widely addressed as breast cancer. Awareness for breast cancer lasts the entire month of October. Prostate Cancer Awareness Month is September, yet there is much less visibility. Unlike in October, there are few products that sport a blue prostate cancer awareness ribbon. No-shave November is more closely associated with prostate cancer awareness to most people than September is. 

The disparity in attention offered to these two diseases, which so closely resemble one another, can only raise the question of why one seems to be discussed and addressed so much more. Some believe societal norms regarding sex may offer an answer to this question. An article on hercampus.com describes the sorts of advertisements that arise during the month of October in relevance to breast cancer. The article explained some advertisements had slogans that said “Don’t Just Stare, Save a Pair!” or “Big and Small: We Save Them All.” 

The aforementioned article goes on to explain that the shift in attention from the actual patient to a mere part of her body disregards the seriousness of the circumstances facing those being affected. In context of the severity of breast cancer, it is quite obviously offensive to appeal to consumers to donate or learn more about the issue as a result of sexualizing the part of a woman’s body that is affected with a disease that has the potential to end her life. 

Women’s bodies are often the focus of sexual objectification in advertisements. It seems in the case of raising awareness for breast cancer, objectification is meant to serve as a way to grasp people’s attention. However, that does not necessarily mean the use of sexual speech or connotation is acceptable or approprate. People suffer because of these diseases, men and women alike, and that is what makes these issues so important. 

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