The Battle Against Breast Cancer: A Brief History

Centuries of breast cancer research have taken us from black bile to BRCA genes. In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, here's how it all happened

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Oct 21, 2015 at 6:47 PM ET

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a time for remembering the centuries-long race to stay one step ahead of breast cancer, and hoping that, one day, we’ll eradicate the disease that claims 40,000 lives every year.

We’ve come a long way since Halstead’s radical mastectomies—aggressive procedures that saved lives, but maimed women in the process. Nowadays, we have mammograms and BRCA genes to aid in early detection, surgical procedures that women can walk away from and chemotherapy for a less invasive approach. Here’s a brief history of the battle against breast cancer: