Breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer in women not including skin cancer. During 2008, an estimated 182,460 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to occur among women and about 1,990 new cases in men in the US. Breast cancer rates have decreased about 3.5% per year since 2001-2004 and may reflect the reduction in use of hormone replacement therapy (HRT). The 2002 publication of the Women’s Health Initiative linked HRT use to increased risk of heart diseases and breast cancer. In addition to invasive breast cancer, there are 67,770 new cases of situ (not yet spread) breast cancer are expected among women in 2008. Situ breast cancer incidence rates have stabilized since the late 1990s, reflecting the recent drop in mammography utilization.
An estimated 40,480 women and 450 men breast cancer patients are expected to die in 2008. Breast cancer ranks second (after lung cancer) as a cause of cancer death in women eve though it has decreased steadily since 1990. Progress in both early detection and improved treatment with contributes to the decrease.
A mammogram can detect earliest sign of breast cancer. The abnormality, painless mass in the breast may not be felt by the woman or a healthcare professional. Other less common symptoms may include persistent changes to the breast: thickening, redness swelling, skin irritation, distortion, tenderness or scaliness. Nipples also have abnormalities like retraction, ulceration, and or spontaneous discharge.
Women have the greatest risk in getting breast cancer. Age is another important factor. Risk can also increased by inherited genetic, a family history of breast cancer, high breast tissue density, and high-dose radiation to the chest, usually related to other medical procedure. Reproductive factors also increase the risk: menstrual periods that start early and or end late in life, prolong use of oral contraceptives, having the first child after age 30 or never have children. If a person is overweight or obese after menopause, use of postmenopausal hormone therapy (estrogen and progestin combined), inactivity and drinking more than one alcoholic beverages per day, be extra careful because these are factors that increase breast cancer risk. Being active, maintaining a healthy body weight, breastfeeding are all associated with lowering the risk of breast cancer.
The 5-year relative survival rate for malignant cancer that has not spread to the lymph nodes or other location outside the breast has increased from 80% in the mid 1900 to 98% today. The recent 5-year survival rate is 84% for cases with cancer has spread regionally. For women with metastases cancer (spread to distant parts of the body), the 5-year survival rate is 27%.
Breast cancer screening has proved to reduce breast cancer mortality. 61% of breast cancer is diagnosed at a localized stage and the 5-year survival rate is very impressive at 98% due to timely access to high quality follow-up and treatment.
Other than genetic gene, there is a lot we can do to prevent cancer development. Maintaining a healthy and balance lifestyle including manage stress, eat right, take vitamins, stay fit and pay attention to the environment where you live and work. The air you breath and the water you drink have a lot to do with your health.