The country goes pink in the month of October in solidarity, hope and support for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. As one of the most successful health advocacy campaigns, breast cancer awareness has done some amazing things for a very tragic and serious disease. So with a lot of bad that comes from cancer, there is some positive news about the decline in breast cancer in recent years, in large part due to the prolific breast cancer awareness campaign. Today we’re breaking down the stats – good, bad and ugly – as a reminder that we’ve come a long way in support of breast cancer, and there is still a long way left to go.
Breast Cancer Statistics:
- One out of every eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer. That’s at least a few of your friends, neighbors, family members or co-workers.
- Approximately 220,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year and nearly 40,000 will die of the disease, making it the second leading cause of death in women in the U.S. and the leading cause of cancer death among women in the U.S.
- The largest factors that contribute to breast cancer are being female and age. The risk of breast cancer is greater as a woman gets older, however breast cancer can occur at any age.
- Genetics play a factor in breast cancer but only 5 to 10% is hereditary. The risk of breast cancer is doubled if a woman has a first-degree relative (mother, daughter or sister) with the disease. But still, over 85% of women who are diagnosed with breast cancer have no familial history.
The Good News:
Even with these somber statistics, the prognosis is better than ever before. Since 1990, breast cancer death rates have been declining. The most decline is for women under the age of 50. Several factors may contribute to this improvement including early detection, less use of hormone replacement therapy after menopause, better treatment and more awareness of risk factors. Clearly, breast cancer awareness month is working to inform women to reduce their personal risks – eating a healthy diet, remaining physically fit, breastfeeding, not smoking, limiting alcohol, taking care of their bodies to avoid infections and avoiding environment risk factors such as sun exposure, radiation, toxins and contaminated water. It’s also helped women take personal responsibility for their own breast health through monthly self-breast exams and getting recommended mammograms. And the money raised for breast cancer awareness contributes to break-through research and drugs that changed a breast cancer diagnosis from probable fatality to a continued normal life after treatment for a majority of women.
Other Interesting Facts about Breast Cancer:
- Most breast cancer does not result in breast pain. However, if a women experiences breast pain, she should see her doctor. Most likely breast pain is caused by hormonal changes in the body.
- Breast cancer is more common in dense breast tissue, but also harder to detect there. For women with dense breast tissue, ultrasounds or MRIs may be required, rather than regular mammograms. Women with fattier breast tissue are less likely to get breast cancer.
- Men can get breast cancer. Approximately 2,200 men are diagnosed each year and around 400 die of breast cancer.
- Breastfeeding for at least one year cumulatively reduces a woman’s risk of breast cancer by 28%. The longer she breastfeeds, the lower her risk becomes.
- Mammogram guidelines have changed in recent years. Now, it is recommended that women between the ages of 50 and 74 have a mammogram every two years. Younger and older women should discuss their personal risk factors with a physician to determine if earlier or continued screenings are necessary.
Breast health and the health of women and families everywhere is important to us at Leading Lady. So we join the country in “thinking pink” this month and raising awareness for the breast cancer cause. It is working, even if only in small strides. Wishing you much breast health and a renewed sense of breast cancer consciousness in October and beyond.