Breast Cancer Facts & Statistics
What is Breast Cancer?
Breast cancer is a type of abnormal cell growth that forms in the tissue of the breast with the potential to spread to other areas of the body. Breast cancer is one of the over 100 types of cancers.
How Common is Breast Cancer?
Female breast cancer is the most common cancer in the world. Women have a 12.83% (1 in 8) chance of being diagnosed with breast cancer at some point in their life. Men have a 0.13% chance.(1) After heart disease, cancer is the second leading cause of death for women (2). Breast cancer is the number two type of cancer women die from.(3)
What is the Most Common Age of Breast Cancer Patients?
The risk for breast cancer increases as we age. Women under 40 account for only 7% of breast cancer cases. Women are most likely to be diagnosed in their 50s and 60s. (4)
What is the Survival Rate of Breast Cancer?
In the United States, female breast cancer as a whole, has a survival rate of 87%. Rates for individual patients vary based on quality of treatment, stage at detection, type of cancer, and a variety of other factors.
Are Some Ethnicities Affected More Than Others?
Yes. White women are more likely than any other ethnicity to be diagnosed with breast cancer. Black women are more likely to die from breast cancer. Asian/Pacific Islander women have the lowest incidence and mortality rates of all ethnicities. Breast cancer is the common cause of cancer death among Hispanic women.
Breast Cancer Risk Factors & Prevention
What Causes Breast Cancer?
Breast cancer has a variety of risk factors including aging, certain inherited genetic mutations, dense breasts, personal history of cancer, hormone levels, high-dose radiation to chest, family with breast cancer, alcohol consumption, Ashkenazi Jewish heritage, exposure to Diethylstilbestrol, early period, tall height, high socioeconomic status, late or no full-term pregnancies, late menopause, no breastfeeding, post-menopausal obesity, personal history of endometrium or ovarian cancer, hormone therapy usage, and oral birth control use.(4) Many of these risk factors are closely tied to estrogen levels.
Is Breast Cancer Hereditary?
It can be. Having a close family history with a history of breast cancer, having the inherited genetic mutation BRCA1 or BRCA2, or having Ashkenazi Jewish heritage can increase your risk for breast cancer.
How Can You Prevent Breast Cancer?
Studies have shown that limiting alcohol, engaging in regular physical activity, consuming more fruits and vegetables, avoiding smoking, breastfeeding, and limiting night shift work may reduce your odds of breast cancer. Mastectomies (the removal of one or both the breasts) and the therapeutic use of the drugs raloxifene and tamoxifen can also help prevent breast cancer.
Breast Cancer Early Detection
How Do I Detect Breast Cancer Early?
Should I Get a Genetic Test?
Most doctors recommend a genetic test only if you are at high risk, for instance if you have a strong family history, are of Ashkenazi Jewish descent, or believe you might have the mutated BRCA gene. In one study, those who took a genetic test reported less stress after receiving their results.
What Are the Different Types of Breast Imaging?
How Do I Detect Breast Cancer Early if I Have Dense Breasts?
While mammograms are always the best place to start for all breast cancer screenings, women with dense breasts may, in addition, want to consider a breast ultrasound, ‘fast MRI’ or a combination mammogram-MRI screening schedule.
Breast Cancer Treatment
How is Breast Cancer Treated?
Breast cancer can be treated with surgeries, like a mastectomy or lumpectomy, immunotherapy, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, or hormone therapy. Most patients are treated with a combination of these breast cancer treatment types, depending on their stage. Breast reconstruction surgery is often done afterwards.
How Does Immunotherapy Treat Breast Cancer?
Unbeknownst to us, our immune systems likely prevent or reduce the growth of cancer in many cases. Unfortunately, they are not 100% successful in stopping cancer. Immunotherapy works by extending our immune systems, helping our bodies to better recognize cancer cells or giving our bodies more strength and resources to attack cancer cells.
How Does Chemo Work?
Chemotherapy are drugs that work by disrupting the natural lifecycle (including creation and division) of cells throughout the body. It effects both healthy and cancer cells, so side effects can be substantial.
What is Radiation Therapy?
Also called radiotherapy, radiation therapy is a local treatment that can be divided into external and internal therapies. External beam radiation therapy uses external beams of photon, protons, or electrons to target cancer tumors. Internal radiation therapy uses radioactive implants or liquids at or near the tumor site that stay in the body temporarily or permanently.
How Does Hormone Therapy Treat Breast Cancer?
The natural hormone estrogen helps fuel cancer cell growth. Most types of hormone therapy, also called endocrine therapy, use medications to fight this growth by limiting estrogen in the body or by limiting its ability to attach to cancer cells.
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- “Lifetime Risk of Developing or Dying From Cancer,” American Cancer Society
- “Leading Causes of Death – Females – All races and origins – United States, 2017,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- “Basic Information About Breast Cancer,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- “Breast Cancer Facts & Figures 2017-2018,” American Cancer Society