October - Breast Cancer Awareness Month
- Excluding skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common type of cancer among women in the United States. The National Cancer Institute estimates 230,480 new cases among American females this year, and 2,140 among men in the US, with 39,520 deaths in women and 450 deaths in men.
- Approximately 1 in 8 American women will have breast cancer in their lifetime.
- Although there is no cure (yet) breast cancer death rates are declining. Caught early, the cure rate is very high. Even later stages are now seeing dramatic improvements in both lifespan and the ability to live a great life with this chronic condition.
- Risk factors include aging, weight gain, combined hormone therapy, physical inactivity, consumption of one or more alcoholic beverages per day, a family history, and never having had children or having a first child after age 30.
- Mammography can often detect breast cancer at an early stage when treatment options are greatest and a cure is possible. 50% of breast cancer is caught by mammography. Although there has been much controversy about the right schedule for mammograms, this is still the vehicle that has been most responsible for reducing the death rate of breast cancer through early detection.
- Self exams are important, not so much to catch small, slow-growing tumors, but to identify dangerous, fast-growing ones. So the monthly self-exam continues to be an important part of self-care.