Breast Cancer Awareness

Well today is Monday and the very first day of October. Along with the new month and my birthday also comes the kick off of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. There is a lot of information on the web about Breast Cancer, what it is, statistics, treatment options, support groups and what not, and I might be repeating what some other sites have already published, but I am going to be talking about topics that people have either emailed me, called me asking for more information, or that I think need to be addressed. As always, in order to talk or begin to understand a topic, I think there is merit in having some basic facts. Todays commentary will be in regards to some vital statistics concerning women and Breast Cancer.
What is Breast Cancer? Breast cancer begins in breast tissue, which is made up of glands for milk production, called lobules, and the ducts that connect lobules to the nipple. The remainder of the breast is made up of fatty, connective, and lymphatic tissue.
1. Most masses are NOT cancerous. They are benign. They do not grow uncontrollably or spread, and are not life-threatening.
2. Some breast cancers are called in situ. This means that they are still confined to the ducts within the breast tissue. Nearly all cancers at this stage can be cured. Many oncologists believe that lobular carcinomas in situ are not a true cancer, but more of an indicator of an increased risk for developing an invasive cacner in the future.
3. Most cancerous breast tumors are invasive, or infiltrating. This emans that these cancers start in the lobule or ducts of the breast and then break through the duct or walls and then invade the surrounding tissue of the breast.
Breast Cancer is the most common form of cancer in women in the U.S. excluding skin cancer. Breast Cancer is the second leading cause of all cancer deaths in women after Lung Cancer. This year alone, about 178, 480 women in the United States will be diagnosed with invasive Breast Cancer. There will also be about 62,030 cases of Breast Cancer In Situ in the U.S.  About 40,460 women in the United States will die due to Breast Cancer this year. At this moment in time, there are about 2.5 million Breast Cancer Survivors in the United States.
In 2007, there will be about 2030 cases of Breat Cancer diagnosed in men as well. This is about 1% of all Breast Cancer cases diagnosed in the U.S. There will also be about 450 breast cancer deaths in men as well.
The chance for a woman in the United States to get an Invasive Breast Cancer in their lifetime is about 1 in 8 women. The chance for dying from Breast Cancer in the United States is about 1 in 35 women. As of today, Breast Cancer Death Rates have been on the decline since the last Breast Cancer Fatcs and Figures was published in 2005. This is most likely due to the increase in awareness, earlier diagnosis, better and more routine screening mammograms, and improvements in treatment technicques and options.
This is a look on the world scale of Breast Cancer Rates:(2002)

Since broad suveillance of cancer began in 1975, incidence rates of invasive female breast cancer for all races combined, show four distinct phases: 

Between 1975-1980, incidence rates were essentially constant.

Between 1980-1987, incidence rates increased by 3.7% per year.

Between 1987-2001, incidence rates increased by 0.5% per year.

Between 2001-2004, incidence rates decreased by 3.5% per year.

Much of the long term underlying increase in incidence is attributed to changes in reproductive patterns, such as delayed child bearing and having fewer children, which are recognized risk factors for Breast Cancer.  The rapid increase between the years of 1980 through 1987 was due to the increase in the utilizatin of mammography in screening and detecting breast cancers that were normally too small to be felt by a physical exam only. Detecting these tumors earlier has the effect of inflating the incidence rate on Breast Cancer becuase we are now detecting cancers 1 to 3 years earlier before they become symptomatic to patients. During this time period of 1980 to 1987 when mammography was being introduced as a screening and detection tool, the incidence of tumors measuring 2cm or less more then doubled. At the same time, larger tumors, those measuring 3cm or more decreased by a margin of 27% during this time period.

Other Frequently Asked Questions About Breast Cancer:

Does physical activity reduce the risk of breast cancer? A woman that excersices four hours per week reduces her chance of getting breast cancer. Excersicing increases the immune system and reduces the amount of estrogen hormone levels in your system.

Will a healthy diet help in the prevention of breast cancer? Eat a low fat nutritious diet. A hig-fat diet increases the risk of breast cancer since fat triggers the hormone estrogen which helps to fuel tumor growth. Fill your diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables.

Does smoking cause Breast Cancer? Most studies have not shown that smoking can cause Breast Cancer. One recent study showed that there might be a link. Studies looking at the relationship between smoking, second-hand smoking and their effects on breast cancer are still underway and bieng reviewed. However, once you are diagnosed with Breast Cancer, smoking has shown to decrease patients survival rates.

Does alcohol consumption increase my risk of Breast Cancer? One or two drinks per day has not been shown to significantly statistically increase a women’s chance for breast cancer. However, the more one drinks per day, the more you do increase your chance for breast cancer over time. Drink in moderation always.

Are oral contraceptives a link to Breast Cancer? There is an increased risk for women under the age of 35 that have been using oral contraceptives for more then 10+ years consecutively.

How often should I do Breast Self Exams? Give yourself a breast-self exam once a month. Look for any changes in breast tissue, such as changes in size, a lump, dimpling or puckering of the breast, or a discharge of the nipple. Eight out of ten lumps are NOT cancerous.

Does a family history put me at high risk? If you have a grandmother, mother, sister, or daughter that has been diagnosed with Breast Cancer, this does put you in a higher risk group. Have a baseline mammogram done 5 years prior to the age of diagnosis of your family member that had breast cancer. For example, a mother that was diagnosed at age 40, you should have your baseline mammorgram performed at age 35. See your physician at any signs of abnormal changes i nyour breast tissue. I will discuss genetics more specifically in another article later this month.

Does my menstraul history effect my risk for Breast Cancer? You are at a higher risk if you had your first mentraul period before the age of 12, you have no children, you had your first child after the age of 30, or you began menopause after the age of 55.

What kind of impact does stress have on Breast Cancer? Although some studies have shown that  stress factors such as traumatic life events and losses can alter the way the immune system functions, there is no scientific evidence to show a cause-effect relationship between the two. One area that is currently being researched now is how stress affects women who are currently under going treatment for their breast cancer. Researchers are also looking at how stress reduction may improve the immune repsonse and possibly slow down cancer progression.

How often should you go to the doctor? You should have a yearly check up with your primary care physician at least once a year. If any unusual or abnormal changes occur in your breasts prior to that yearly exam, you should not hesitate to call your physician to be seen immediately.

As always, if you have any further questions, comments, concerns or would like to get some help or additional information on this topic or something else relating to cancer, please feel free to contact me directly at: CANCERGEEK@GMAIL.COM or CANCERGEEK@CANCERGEEK.COM

All mail will be answered with in 24 hours.


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  • Randi
    Posted at 12:27h, 03 October

    Is breast cancer caused by something women come in contact with at work, at home, in their communities or in the personal products they use? That’s what the Sister Study is trying to answer. The Sister Study needs 50,000 women whose sisters had breast cancer, to enroll now, to help discover the environmental and genetic causes of breast cancer. Conducted by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, the Sister Study is committed to enrolling a diverse population of women to ensure the results represent and benefit all women. For more information visit or Call toll-free 1-877-4SISTER. Deaf/Hard of Hearing call 1-866-TTY-4SIS.

  • Pingback:Breast Cancer Awareness Month: What you need to know. | Welcome to Catherine Blogs
    Posted at 12:10h, 08 October

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  • Colleen Borgoyn
    Posted at 14:12h, 31 March

    Can someone explain how you get a her2nu + breast cancer — how does this hapen?

  • michaelson lisa
    Posted at 22:46h, 17 April

    I found your blog on google and read a few of your other posts. I just added you to my Google News Reader. Keep up the good work. Look forward to reading more from you in the future.

  • Cancer
    Posted at 12:12h, 23 June

    I found your blog on google and read a few of your other posts. I just added you to my Google News Reader. Keep up the good work. Look forward to reading more from you in the future.

  • loopzer
    Posted at 09:26h, 03 December

    Any information on your sources though?

  • Carroll B. Merriman
    Posted at 10:47h, 09 January

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