In mid-January, Breast Cancer Ad Campaign Features Models with Mastectomy Scars (dateline January 31, 2000) | Breast Health News | Imaginis - The Women's Health & Wellness Resource Network

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Breast Cancer Ad Campaign Features Models with Mastectomy Scars (dateline January 31, 2000)

In mid-January, The Breast Cancer Fund launched a new advertising campaign that aims to promote breast cancer awareness by super-imposing breast removal scars on professional models. The ads, which were placed at 37 bus shelters in the San Francisco Bay Area, mimic magazine ads forObsession perfume, Cosmopolitan magazine and Victoria's Secret lingerie catalogs. One ad features a model in her bra and panties, revealing a scar from breast removal with mastectomy.  The ad reads, "It's no secret society is obsessed with breasts, but what are we doing about breast cancer?"

The double mastectomy scars featured in a Cosmopolitan-like ad were super-imposed from pictures of Andrea Martin's surgical scars. Martin, 53, is the founder of The Breast Cancer Fund and underwent her first mastectomy scar in 1989. In a press release by The Breast Cancer Fund earlier this month, the organization said, "The ads challenge the obsession with the female breast as an object in the belief that until our culture more appropriately honors women and their bodies, we will never defeat a disease that attacks its most profound symbol of sexuality and nurture."

According to The Breast Cancer Fund, the goals of the provocative ad campaign are to increase public awareness and involvement in breast cancer issues, to replace the fear of breast cancer with the desire to act, to educate and provide ways for the public to help fight the disease, and to promote discussion about breast cancer among children and young adults. In a press release, The Breast Cancer Fund likened their unveiling of these realistic images of breast cancer to "Saving Private Ryan" unveiling the realities of World War II.

The ads have caused controversy in the San Francisco Bay Area. Two posters were removed after residents complained. Outdoor Systems, a billboard company that originally donated ad space in 20 San Francisco bus shelters, has refused to use the ads. According to a company spokesperson, Outdoor Systems found the graphic nature of the ads unacceptable. A spokesperson for the American Cancer Society (ACS) applauded The Breast Cancer Fund for the daring ad campaign but noted that ACS prefers to promote breast cancer awareness in more conventional ways (e.g., through educational messages).

It is estimated that approximately 180,000 American women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in the year 2000. The majority of women with breast cancer will undergo either lumpectomy (removal of a breast lump) or mastectomy (removal of the affected breast) as part of their treatment. Breast reconstruction is possible in most cases after mastectomy, and for many women, reconstruction may be done during the same operation in which the breast is removed.

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