National Breast Cancer Awareness Month is celebrating its 25th year of “awareness, education, and empowerment.” According to the National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health, the definition of breast cancer is a “cancer that forms in tissues of the breast, usually the ducts (tubes that carry milk to the nipple) and lobules (glands that make milk). It occurs in both men and women, although male breast cancer is rare.” “Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer among women in the United States (other than skin cancer).” In 2011, the estimated new diagnosed cases from breast cancer in the United States are 230,480 females and 2140 males. Also, the estimated deaths are 39,520 females and 450 males.
Susan G. Komen for the Cure is a wonderful organization that raises money for awareness and research. In 1983, the first race, with 800 runners, was held in Dallas, Texas. By 2002, more than 1.3 million people participated in more than 100 races around the United States and in two foreign countries. Today, Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure is supported by Yoplait USA, Bank Of America, Caltrate, Ford Motor Company, New Balance Athletic Shoe, Inc., RE/MAX International, LLC, SELF Magazine, Walgreens, Zeta Tau Alpha Fraternity, Georgia-Pacific, and purchases made by consumers like you.
Every woman has the capability of developing breast cancer. As you age, your risk increases. According to the American Cancer Society Breast Cancer Facts and Figures 2009-2010, your chance for breast cancer at age 20 is 1 in 1760 and the chance at age 70 is 1 in 27. Just being a woman puts you at risk for breast cancer. Yet there are some other risk factors that can increase your chances, such as “having an inherited mutation in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 breast cancer genes, having more than one drink of alcohol per day, being younger than 12 at the time of your first period, having your first child after age 35, having high breast density on a mammogram, current or recent use of birth control pills, never having children” and many more listed at Susan G. Komen for the Cure®.
The best line of defense is to get screened by your doctor. At age 40 and every year after that, each woman should have a mammogram. “A mammogram is an X-ray of the breast. It is the best screening tool used today to find breast cancer early. A mammogram can find cancer in its earliest stages, even before a lump can be felt.” Another detection method, also much cheaper and involves less pain, is a clinical breast exam. “A clinical breast exam is done by a health care provider who checks your breasts and underarm areas for any lumps or changes. Many women have a clinical breast exam when they get their Pap test. Women should have a clinical breast exam at least every 3 years between the ages of 20 and 39 and every year starting at age 40.”
If diagnosed with breast cancer, the five-year survival rate is actually pretty good. “The 5-year survival rate for all women diagnosed with breast cancer is 90 percent. This means that 90 out of every 100 women with breast cancer will survive for at least five years. Most will live a full life and never have a recurrence. Your chances of survival are better if the cancer is detected early, before it spreads to other parts of your body. In fact, when breast cancer is found early and confined to the breast, the 5-year survival rate is 98 percent. That is why it is so important to take steps to detect breast cancer in its earliest stages, according to the American Cancer Society.