Breast cancer will lead to 230,480 new, lethally invasive cases this year; giving us the second-leading cause of cancer deaths among women, behind lung cancer. Excluding cancers of the skin, breast cancer is the most common cancer among women, accounting for nearly 1 in 4 cancers diagnosed in U.S. women.
Currently, a women living in the U.S. has a 12.1 percent, or a 1 in 8, lifetime risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer. During 2002 to 2006, the median age at the time of breast cancer diagnosis was 61 years. This means that 50 percent of women who developed breast cancer were age 61 or younger at the time of diagnosis.
White women have a higher incidence of breast cancer than African American women beginning at age 45. In contrast, African American women have a higher incidence rate before age 45 and are more likely to die from breast cancer at every age. Despite higher incidence rates, breast cancer death rates are lower among white women than among African American women. Incidence and death rates for breast cancer are lower among women of other racial and ethnic groups than among white and African American women.
The death rate for breast cancer in women has decreased since 1990.
Men are generally at low risk for developing breast cancer; however, they should report any change in their breasts to a physician. Men account for approximately 1 percent of breast cancer cases in the U.S.
There is no sure way to prevent breast cancer, which is why regular mammograms are so important. Begin annual mammography at age 40. Mammography is a low dose X-ray procedure that allows visualization of the internal structure of the breast. Mammography is highly accurate, but like most medical tests, is not perfect. On average, mammography will detect about 80 to 90 percent of the breast cancer in women without symptoms.
Women with a family history of breast cancer, especially in a first-degree relative (mother, sister, or daughter), are at increased risk of developing breast cancer.
A woman’s best overall preventive health strategy is to reduce her known risk factors as much as possible by avoiding weight gain and obesity, engaging in regular physical activity, and minimizing alcohol intake.
One study suggests that regular physical activity, regardless of intensity, may reduce the risk of breast cancer in postmenopausal women. Breast cancer typically produces no symptoms when the tumor is small and most treatable.
When breast cancer has grown to a size that can be felt, the most common physical sign is a painless mass. Less common signs and symptoms include breast pain or heaviness; persistent change to the breast, such as swelling, thickening, or redness of the breast’s skin; and nipple abnormalities such as spontaneous discharge, erosion, inversion or tenderness.
Most women with breast cancer will have some type of surgery. The primary goal of breast cancer surgery is to remove the cancer from the breast and to assess the state of disease.
Radiation may be used to destroy cancer cells remaining in the breast, chest wall, or underarm area after surgery, or to reduce the size of a tumor before surgery.
Breast cancer treatment can result in a variety of short and long term side effects that affect quality of life, including psychological distress, hormonal symptoms and fatigue.
Local high school athletes in the Colonial League and the Lehigh Valley Conference have shown their support for breast cancer by wearing pink tape and other pink gear during competitions and donating monies from admission charges.
Local events to raise money and create awareness for breast cancer include:
WZZO is doing their part by giving away limited-edition WZZO Save Second Base T-shirts all month long! They will be at businesses all over the Lehigh Valley giving them away. Find out where and when and take the Pink Ribbon Challenge on WZZO.com. Sponsored by Lehigh Center for Clinical Research.
Saturday October 15 at 9 am, the 19th annual Women’s 5K Classic at the Little Lehigh Parkway Allentown. All female 5K run, 5K walk in the park. The event supports women with cancer and raises money for research in the Lehigh Valley. Cost $ 36.50.
Oct 27th from 5 pm-7 pm, Lehigh Valley Grand Prix will be hosting an event to spread breast cancer awareness. Wear Pink and Get $12 Races!!! $5 suggested donation at the door.
The Bethlehem Fire Department is selling pink fire department t-shirts. The fire department plans to give all the shirt proceeds to St. Luke’s Hospital & Health Network for its cancer center. The shirts sell for $10 or $12 for size 2X or larger are for sale at the city’s firehouse at 419 E. Fourth Street and all four locations of MP Uniform & Supply Co. Throughout October, they also will be for sale at the gift shop at St. Luke’s Hospital in Fountain Hill.