Breast cancer is something many women don’t think they need to worry about until they are retired or grandmothers. The reality is breast cancer can affect women of almost any age. There is no cure for breast cancer, and experts still aren’t exactly sure what causes it. Knowing the facts and preventative steps to take are key to fighting this deadly disease. Here’s what you need to know:
1. In the U.S., a new breast cancer diagnosis occurs every three minutes. Every 13 minutes, a woman dies from breast cancer.
2. It’s estimated that one in every eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime.
3. Next to skin cancer, breast cancer is the most prevalent cancer in women regardless of race or ethnicity. Overall, breast cancer is the seventh leading cause of death in women. For women ages 20-59, breast cancer is the second leading cause of death.
4. Each year, an average of 40,000 women will die of breast cancer. That’s approximately 20 percent of the total diagnoses in a year’s time. The American Cancer Society estimated 192,370 new breast cancer diagnoses in 2009.
5. Men can develop breast cancer also. Breast cancer is not as common in men, but it is still a possibility. In 2007, more than 2,000 men were diagnosed with breast cancer—one percent of all breast cancer diagnoses.
6. Common risk factors for breast cancer include gender, age, personal history, and genetics. The risk of developing breast cancer increases with age. The greatest risk factor in developing breast cancer is gender. Women are 100 times more likely to develop breast cancer than men.
7. Genetics play a big role in developing breast cancer. If someone in your family is diagnosed with breast cancer, plan to schedule a mammogram five years before the age at which your family member was diagnosed. It is recommended that all women get medical breast examinations every three years when they are between the ages of 20 to 39 and every year after they turn 40.
8. Self-examination is important to breast cancer detection. Knowing what feels normal is the best way to identify changes. Approximately 70 percent of breast cancer diagnoses are the result of self-detection.
9. Breast cancer symptoms include: lump in the breast or armpit, thickening or swelling of part of the breast, abnormal discharge, pain, irritation and change in size. If you have any symptoms, talk to your doctor.
10. There are steps that can be taken to reduce your chances of getting breast cancer. For instance, controlling your weight and maintaining a healthy diet can reduce your risk. Limiting your alcohol intake can decrease your risk as well. Also, know your family history and if your genetics put you at risk. Finally, get screened regularly. The best way to fight breast cancer is to catch it early.
Written by Sarah Nelson for Causecast.org.