Another October has come and just about gone. The month of the year that is a sad time for many who have lost loved ones to breast cancer. A time when all of us need to try in some little way to help in the fight against this second most prevalent of cancers for women.
Every year there are many public awareness activities and events to raise money for research and the fight against this another killer disease. The popular Susan G. Komen, Race for the Cure and the Yoplait yogurt Save Lids to Save Lives Pink lid campaign are two that help to allow everyone to get involved. The color Pink has been set aside as symbolic for breast cancer, since it is mostly a woman’s disease. The little pink ribbons pinned on t-shirts has helped to heighten public awareness. You can now get most anything you want with a ribbon on it and some of the money from sales goes to the Cancer Foundation. From what I have read, even with all this advertisement a lot of people do not know very much about breast cancer.
Did you know that even men have a 1 in 769.2 chance of being diagnosed with breast cancer? The numbers go up for women to 1 in 8.23 that a woman will be diagnosed in her lifetime. Breast cancer deaths are going down but the diagnoses are going up. The odds of a female diagnosed in any given year were 1 in 951.5 in 1975. By 2000, it had increased to 1 in 736 and by 2007, the numbers had only slightly improved to 1 in 802. That has been attributed to more women going for mammograms thereby being diagnosed at an earlier stage. If conditions and cancers at an earlier stage are detected it could account for lives being saved. In 2006 190,410 women were diagnosed, that same year 40,820 died. That is just not acceptable. We can do better than that. We already have already increased knowledge of this killer by getting the word out in many other ways. Like the buddy check. You and a buddy pledge to remind each other to do their self breast exams. Don’t wait for a yearly exam by your doctor. If caught early, you do not have to die.
There are no easily identifiable breast cancer risk factors. Hormone therapy, obesity, alcohol, and genetics have been linked to your chances of having this disease. Just by being a woman and being older puts you at risk. Breast cancer diagnosis begins to rise at about the age of 40 and peaks between the ages of 75 and 79. Young women are pretty much protected, with only a 1 in 2,283 chance of being diagnosed before the age of 50. For those who are over 50, the numbers increase to 1 in 297.2.
There are only a few symptoms that may show up like skin changes on the breast, nipple discharge, or a lump in the breast or underarm. The most common is the mammogram. Mammograms can detect cancer before the manifestation of clinical signs, increasing the likelihood of a cure.
Treated and managed by chemotherapy, radiation therapy, surgery, or a combination of all three usually takes care of cases that have been diagnosed early. The odds of a woman surviving in 2006 at least one year were 1 in 1.02. That is ninety eight percent. The odds were just as encouraging for survivors of at least 5 years and for those given hope of a ten year survival rate.
To sum it up, remind every woman you care about to get a regular mammogram. With this disease being only second to melanoma skin cancer in women, we need to step up the fight.
Oh, and be sure to buy a pink ribbon. It doesn’t have to be October.
Source: CDC Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, USCS(http://apps.nccd.cdc.gov/uscs/)