October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. While science and medicine has made great strides in the fight against breast cancer, it remains one of the most-deadly forms of cancer around. It's the leading cause of death for women between the ages of 44-55. In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, here are a few things you may not know about this threatening disease.
1. One in every eight women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime.
2. The majority of breast cancer cases are sporadic, meaning genetics and family history are irrelevant. Less than 15% of women diagnosed have a family member who has been diagnosed.
3. Women with mutation of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes are anywhere from 45% to 65% more likely to develop breast cancer, as well as ovarian cancer.
4. Men can also get breast cancer, and are most at-risk if a female family member has contracted the disease.
5. Around 260,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year in the United States.
6. The American Cancer Society estimates around 40,000 women die each year from breast cancer in the United States.
7. According to June totals, there are over 2.8 million women with a history of breast cancer in the United States.
8. Breast cancer is more common among younger African American women (under the age of 45) than other races.
9. White women between the ages of 60-84 have higher rates of breast cancer diagnosis than African American women.
10. Mortality rates in women with breast cancer are highest among African American women (31%), followed by white women (21.9%), American Indians (15%), Hispanic women (14.5%) and Asian women (11.4%).
11. Breast cancer mortality rates are higher among white women in the North Central, Mid-Atlantic and Western regions of the United States.
12. African American women have higher mortality rates in the South Central and Mid-Atlantic states, as well as in California.
13. The median age at the time of breast cancer diagnosis was 61 from 2008-2012.
14. The relative survival rates for women are 89% at five years after diagnosis, 83% after 10 years, and 78% after 15 years.
15. Symptoms of breast cancer include lump or thickening in or near the breast or underarm that persists during the menstrual cycle, a lump as small as a pea or larger, a change in the shape of the breast and redness of the skin on the breast or nipple.
16. Other symptoms include blood-stained or clear fluid discharge from the nipple, a change in shape or position of the nipple and a marble-like hardness under the skin.
17. Not having children, or having children later in life are higher at risk for developing breast cancer.
18. The risk for developing breast cancer is two times higher in obese women and 1.5 times higher in overweight women.
19. The risk of developing breast cancer is 16% higher in women with type 2 diabetes.
20. Women who are more active physically are less likely to develop breast cancer. Women who exercise are 10-25% less likely to develop the disease.
21. Drinking alcohol can increase risk of contracting breast cancer by as much as 15%. Women who have 2-3 drinks per day are 20% more likely to develop breast cancer in their lifetime.
22. The American Cancer Society funds more than $86 million towards fighting breast cancer every year. Its “Early Detection Program” has helped minority and low-income people learn of their diagnosis early on, with better survival odds.
23. The odds of survival after breast cancer diagnosis has improved in each decade since 1970.
By: Ron Schaberg
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