The good news is that breast cancer today is not what it was 20 years ago. Survival rates are climbing, due to greater awareness, early detection, and advances in treatment. For the roughly 200,000 Americans who are diagnosed with breast cancer each year, there are plenty of reasons to be hopeful.
The Susan Komen Foundation reported that over the past 20 years, progress in treatment and early detection has led to improved survival for people of all ages, races, and stages of breast cancer. Between 1990 and 2010, breast cancer mortality declined by 34 percent among women in the U.S. Today, there are more than three million breast cancer survivors in the U.S., more than any other group of cancer survivors.
The goal of treating early breast cancer is to get rid of the cancer and keep it from coming back. Treatment for early breast cancer includes some combination of surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy and targeted therapy. These treatments are designed to remove the cancer from the breast and destroy any cancer that might still be in the body.
According to the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Facts and Figures 2015, the five-year survival rate is the percentage of people who survive at least five years after the cancer is found. If the cancer is located only in the breast, the five-year relative survival rate of people with breast cancer is 99%. If the cancer has spread to the regional lymph nodes, the five-year survival rate is 85%. If the cancer has spread to a distant part of the body, the five-year survival rate is 25%. For all stages combined, the five-year survival rate for breast cancer is 89%, the 10-year rate is 83%, and the 15-year rate is 78%.
About 5% of women have metastatic cancer when they are first diagnosed with breast cancer. Even if the cancer is found at a more advanced stage, new treatments help many people with breast cancer maintain a good quality of life, at least for some period of time.
Breast cancer is the second most common cause of death from cancer in women in the United States, after lung cancer. However, since 1989, the number of women who have died of breast cancer has steadily decreased. In women younger than 50, there has been a decrease of 3.2% per year from 2007 to 2011 in white women and a decrease of 2.4% per year in black women. In women age 50 and older, the decrease has been 1.8% per year for white women and 1.1% per year in black women. Currently, there are more than 2.8 million women living in the United States who have been diagnosed with and treated for breast cancer.
Some useful facts you show know
Breast cancer often has no symptoms, but sometimes women may discover a breast problem on their own such as; a painless lump in the breast, changes in breast size or shape, swelling in the armpit or nipple changes or discharge. Breast pain can also be a symptom of cancer, but this is not common.
The earlier breast cancer is found, the easier it is to treat it and this is why you should always have an annual mammogram to help detect tumors before they are large enough to feel. The American Cancer Society recommends yearly mammograms beginning at age 40 for women at average risk. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends a screening mammogram every two years from age 50 to 74. It also notes that before age 50, each woman should check with a doctor to find out what screening schedule is right for her, considering the potential benefits and harms.
It was once widely recommended that women check their own breasts once a month. I was surprised to learn that studies suggest that breast self-exams play a very small role in finding cancer. The current thinking is that it’s more important to know your breasts and be aware of any changes, rather than checking them on a regular schedule.
If you find a lump don’t panic because eighty percent of breast lumps are not cancerous. Often lumps turn out to be harmless cysts or changes in the breast tissue related to your menstrual cycle. Contact your doctor know right away if you find anything unusual in your breast. If it is cancer, the earlier it’s found the better. And if it’s not, testing can give you peace of mind.
The most obvious risk factor for breast cancer is being a woman, however men can get the disease as well, especially if it runs in the family. Breast cancer is about 100 times more common in women than men. Other top risk factors include being over age 55 or having a close relative who has had the disease. But keep in mind that up to 80% of women with breast cancer have no family history of the illness.
Some women have a very high risk of breast cancer because they inherited changes in certain genes. The genes most commonly involved in breast cancer are known as BRCA1 and BRCA2. Women with mutations in these genes have up to an 80% chance of getting breast cancer at some point in life. Other genes may be linked to breast cancer risk as well.
Being overweight, getting too little exercise, and drinking more than one alcoholic beverage per day can raise the risk of developing breast cancer. Birth control pills and some forms of postmenopausal hormone therapy can also boost your risk, but once the medications are stopped, the risk can to go back to normal. Recent studies suggest that physical activity may also help to lower the risk of a recurrence and is a proven mood-booster as well!
If you are diagnosed with breast cancer they are many new treatments available today than ever before and these treatments are saving lives. Staying informed and being proactive can help to save your life as well. Remember, early detection and intervention is key to living a longer, healthier, life!