SAN DIEGO. It’s an alarming statistic. One out of 8 women will get breast cancer in her lifetime. In a 2016 Presidential Proclamation, Barack Obama had this to say about this serious women’s health issue.
“During National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we honor all those who lost their lives to breast cancer, and we recognize the courageous survivors who are still fighting for it. For these individuals, and for their loved ones who give their unwavering support during the most trying times, we recommit ourselves to the essential and necessary work of forging a future free from cancer in all its forms.”
Breast cancer put in perspective
First of all, to put this issue in perspective, just walk down the street of a typical neighborhood and count out 8 dwellings. Residing in one of them will be a woman who will be stricken with breast cancer.
Focusing on the most common form of cancer in women that strikes women of all ages, National Breast Cancer Awareness is the ideal time to bring a greater awareness of this epidemic to the forefront.
Happily, the good news today is that there is now a 5-year relative survival rate of 99% for those women diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. Consequently, the Society further indicates that there are more than 3 million survivors today in the U.S. alone.
Be sure to get a yearly breast exam
The current success rate for early stage breast cancer survival also points out the fact that early detection of this serious women’s health issue was a critical component leading to this dramatic improvement.
“There can be life after breast cancer. The prerequisite is detection.”
Forms and stages of the disease
In its 2015-2016 report, “Breast Cancer Facts and Figures,” the American Cancer Society (ACS) describes breast cancer as a form of the disease that causes bodily cells to change and subsequently grow out of control. True to its name, this cancer begins primarily in the glands or ducts used in the production of milk.
The ACS report also describes various other forms of this cancer. These include lobular carcinoma of the breast, which is cancer growing within the lobules of the mammary glands. Some breast cancers, however, occur in both the ductal and lobular regions. If any form of this cancer should subsequently turn invasive, it can metastasize by spreading to the lymph nodes.
According to the report, the main staging system for determining the severity of this cancer is as follows:
- Stage 0 (In situ stage)
- Stage I (Early stage invasive cancer)
- Stage II (Regional tumors which have spread to surrounding tissue or lymph nodes)
- Stage III (Stage II in nature, though more widespread. May have spread to distant organs or lymphs above the collarbone)
- Stage IV (Most advanced stage invasive cancer, with the most extensive metastasizing)
With lower stage breast cancers, stages may be more difficult to detect due to the small size of the cancer. In more advanced stages, there might be lumps or nodules detectable through self-examination; the experience of pain, swelling, or redness of the breast tissue; unusual changes to nipples, and more.
Because of this, it is critical for potential victims of this cancer to report these or any other suspicious symptoms to a qualified healthcare professional. In addition, the medical profession recommends annual mammograms for women age 40 and over.
The grim statistics
It is staggering that 3.1 million American women had a history of breast cancer on January 1, 2014. Even worse, approximately 321,840 new cases of invasive breast cancer and 60,290 cases of in situ breast cancer were reported in 2015.
Hence, according to the American Cancer Association, breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer death for women. The disease killed approximately 40,290 women in 2015.
“With over 3 million women battling breast cancer today, everywhere you turn there is a mother, daughter, sister, or friend who has been affected by breast cancer.”
While early detection is critical in successful treatment outcomes, the prevention of breast cancer is an often overlooked element that could help improve statistics even more.
Certainly, in addition to annual mammograms and medical check-ups, healthy self-care is equally as important for women. Maintaining a healthy weight, consuming a diet low in fats and sugars, regular exercise, avoiding smoking and limiting alcohol intake can go along way toward preventing breast cancer. , it can also help reduce risks for other diseases as well.
For more information on the issues surrounding breast cancer prevention, detection, treatment and cures, the following list of resources may prove helpful.
- healthfinder.gov, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
- The American Cancer Society
- Susan G. Komen organizations in the city nearest to you
Finally, for a special touch, go to 1-800-Flowers any time you place your floral 0rder. Then add the word HOPE in the promotional code at checkout. For each purchase of $39.99 or more, $10.00 will be donated to The American Cancer Society.
“I’m happy to tell you that having been through surgery and chemotherapy and radiation, breast cancer is officially behind me. I feel absolutely great and I am raring to go.”
Until next time, enjoy the ride in good health!