October is recognized as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a time annually devoted to promoting screening and prevention of the disease, which affects one in eight women in the United States every year and 2.3 million women worldwide. Throughout the month, different types of breast cancer are highlighted, so that education covers all aspects of the disease. October 13 is nationally recognized in the United States as Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day. About 30% of early-stage breast cancers eventually metastasize (spread to parts of the body away from the breast), and the day is intended to drive awareness of the need for more research about metastatic disease. And In 2021, the third week of October was designated as Men's Breast Cancer Awareness Week. About 2,710 American men this year are expected to be diagnosed with breast cancer, and about 530 are expected to die from the disease. This is due, in part to a lack of awareness and stigma, which are often barriers to detection and care.
Breast Cancer Awareness Month is a good reminder to learn more about breast cancer, the risk factors for you and those you love — and how to minimize them — and the importance of being screened for the disease. Regular breast self-exams, an annual exam by your doctor, and yearly mammograms are important tools in breast cancer detection — especially early detection, when cancers may be more treatable. Summit Medical Group provides mammograms using state-of-the-art 3-D mammography technology that significantly increases detection while decreasing false positives and the need for further testing (versus traditional mammography). Visit www.summitmedical.com to learn more or call (865) 588-8005 to schedule yours today.
Annual screenings are recommended for women beginning at age 40. Women with risk factors and family history should consult their primary care provider about the best age to start. Just being a woman and growing older are the two biggest risk factors for breast cancer. Those factors are difficult to change, but you can change other risk factors, such as smoking, drinking alcohol, and not exercising regularly. Having a risk factor does not mean that a woman will get breast cancer. Many women who have risk factors never develop breast cancer; however, certain factors do increase the importance of self examinations and regular screenings.
Here are some fact and statistics about breast cancer from the American Cancer Society:
- In 2023, an estimated 297,790 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women in the U.S., as well as 55,720 new cases of non-invasive, or 'in situ' breast cancer.
- There are currently over 3.8 million breast cancer survivors in the United States.
- An estimated 43,700 U.S. women will die from breast cancer in 2023.
Breast Cancer in the U.S.
- 1 in 8 women, or approximately 13% of the female population in the U.S., will develop breast cancer in their lifetime.
- Breast cancer is the most common cancer in American women, except for skin cancers.
- It is estimated that in 2023, approximately 30% of all new female cancer diagnoses will be breast cancer.
- On average, every 2 minutes a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer in the United States.
- Approximately 64% of breast cancer cases are diagnosed at a localized stage, before cancer has spread outside of the breast, when it is easiest to treat.
- The 5-year relative survival rate for cancer diagnosed at the localized stage is 99%.
- Approximately 15% of women diagnosed have a family history of breast cancer. Those with a first-degree relative (mother, sister, daughter) with breast cancer are nearly twice as likely to develop breast cancer themselves.
Breast Cancer by Age
Though breast cancer in the United States occurs primarily in middle-aged and older women, age is not the only risk factor for a breast cancer diagnosis. Many risk factors beyond age may contribute to a breast cancer diagnosis, and sometimes there are no discernable risk factors at all.
- The average age of U.S. women diagnosed with breast cancer is 62 years old.
- Half of U.S. women who develop breast cancer are 62 years of age or younger when they are diagnosed.
- About 9% of all new breast cancer cases in the U.S. are diagnosed in women younger than 45 years old.
- Younger people, particularly those under age 35 at the time of their original breast cancer diagnosis, face a higher risk of breast cancer recurrence.
Breast Cancer Survival and Mortality
- Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in U.S. women, behind lung cancer. The chance that a woman will die from breast cancer is 1 in 39, or about 2.5%.
- Breast cancer death rates have slowly decreased since 1989, for an overall decline of 43% through 2020. This is in part due to better screening and early detection efforts, increased awareness, and continually improving treatment options.
- Women who receive regular screenings for breast cancer have a 26% lower breast cancer death rate than women who do not receive screenings.
- The 5-year relative survival rate in the U.S. of localized (early stage) breast cancer is 99%.
While breast cancer continues to be one of the deadliest forms of cancer, it is also becoming one of the most survivable. Early detection through exams and screenings are vital to increasing the chances of survival. If you are a man or woman aged 40 or older, talk to your doctor today about regular screenings, which are often covered 100% by many insurances. Don't wait - time is life.