Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Quick Facts

Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Quick Facts

Breast cancer is the second most common cancer in American women, behind skin cancers.

Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women, behind lung cancer.

The lifetime chance of developing invasive breast cancer is approximately 1 in 8, or 12%.

Estimated number of new cases of breast cancer in US women in 2011 is 230,480.

Of these 230,480 new cases, about 57,650 will be carcinoma in situ (the earliest non-invasive form of breast cancer) while approximately 39,520 women will die from breast cancer each year.

Death rates secondary to breast cancer have been declining since 1990, believed to be the result of earlier detection through screening and awareness, as well as improved treatment.

Breast cancer causes about 4,500 deaths annually in women ages 40-49, and is one of the leading causes of death in women in this age group.

Overall, caucasion women have slightly higher risk of developing breast cancer,  but African American women are more likely to die from breast cancer.

Asian, Hispanic, and Native-American women have a lower risk of developing and dying from breast cancer.

Only about 5-10% of breast cancer cases are thought to be hereditary (resulting from genes inherited from a parent); this means that 90% of breast cancer cases occur in women who have no family history of breast cancer.

The biggest risk factors for developing breast cancer are being female and advancing age.

Other risk factors include having first-degree relatives (mother, sister or daughter) with breast cancer, family member with breast cancer at a young age, having dense breast tissue, early age at start of first menstrual period, late age of menopause, long term use of hormone replacement therapy, never having babies or having first baby after the age of 30, having chest radiation treatment.

Women who avoid alcohol and smoking, who exercise regularly and maintain a healthy body weight, and who breast feed for several months have a lower risk of getting breast cancer.

Other than lifestyle changes, the most important action a woman can take is to follow early detection guidelines.  Following early detection guidelines will not prevent breast cancer, but can help find cancers at early stage, while it is curable (before the cancer has spread).

Elements of early detection include yearly breast exam by your doctor, monthly self breast exams, and screening mammography.

A screening mammogram uses x rays to look at the breast tissue, and is used to detect cancer before there are any breast symptoms obvious on breast exam.  By the time symptoms appear, cancer may have already spread.

The ACR (American College of Radiology) and SBI (Society of Breast Imaging) recommend screening mammography should begin at age 40 for women with average-risk of breast cancer. Women at higher-risk should begin by age 30, but no sooner than 25.

There has been approximately a 30% decrease in death caused by breast cancer since 1990, due primarily to early detection of breast cancer through screening mammography.  Evidence to support the recommendation for regular annual screening mammography comes from results of multiple large randomized trials in Europe and North America involving 500,000 women.

If a screening test result is abnormal, you may need to have more tests done to find out if you have cancer.  These diagnostic tests may include tests such as diagnostic mammography, ultrasound, percutaneous needle biopsy and MRI.


1 Comment
  • October 20, 2011 at 6:53 pm

    Vols, bitches

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