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breast cancer facts

11 Unsettling Breast Cancer Facts

Breast cancer treatments are improving survival rates—but do we need to focus more on true prevention and environmental factors?



11 Unsettling Breast Cancer Facts

Breast cancer rates have skyrocketed since the 1930s. Many everyday chemicals are linked to the disease.

First, the good news. We're getting better at successfully treating breast cancer in the United States. Today, receiving a breast cancer diagnosis isn't a death sentence, as evidenced by the 2.9 million women survivors of the invasive form of the disease. While that's positive news, there are some other breast cancer facts you need to know, including that prevention isn't truly a priority when it comes to funding. Once a rarity, today, breast cancer has touched nearly everyone in some form. And scientists are increasingly linking environmental exposures to the disease. And many believe there's much more to be done to stop breast cancer before it even starts. "We're working for a world beyond pink ribbons, beyond awareness," says Jeanne Rizzo, president and CEO of the Breast Cancer Fund. "It's a world where far more research dollars go into how to prevent breast cancer and where lawmakers and companies ensure the products we use every day don't contain toxic chemicals linked to cancer. It's a world where fewer women—or men—ever have to hear the dreaded words, 'you have breast cancer.'"

We teamed up with the Breast Cancer Fund to bring you need-to-know breast cancer facts:

• 1 in 8 women (in the U.S.) will be diagnosed with the disease

• A U.S. woman's lifetime risk of breast cancer increased steadily and dramatically from the 1930s, when the first reliable cancer incidence data were established, through the end of the 20th Century

• In just a generation (since 1978) we've witnessed a 40-percent increase in breast cancer incidence

• At any age, black women are more likely to die from breast cancer than are white women. Mortality rates for both groups have recently decreased, but much less rapidly for black women. In fact, this disparity in mortality rates is getting bigger over time.


Read More: Is Canned Food Causing Breast Cancer?


• The projected cost for breast cancer care and treatment in the U.S. for 2013 is $17.7 billion. (The projection for 2014 is $18.1 billion.) This does not account for the physical or emotional costs of often-arduous treatments, worries about recurrence and long-term treatment side effects, the toll on caregivers, or the pain of losing someone to the disease.


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• Research into environmental links to breast cancer is underfunded—federal breast cancer programs only devote 8.6 to 15.5 percent of funds to research on chemicals and radiation, diet, lifestyle, alcohol consumption, shift work, and social and cultural influences.

• Fewer than 10 percent of breast cancers are tied to the "breast cancer genes"

• In 2011, an estimated 230,480 new cases of invasive breast cancer were diagnosed in women in the U.S., along with 57,650 new cases of non-invasive (in situ) breast cancer.

• About 2,140 new cases of invasive breast cancer are diagnosed a year. A man's lifetime risk of breast cancer is about 1 in 1,000.

• About 39,520 women in the U.S. were expected to die in 2011 from breast cancer, though death rates have been decreasing since 1990—especially in women under 50 years old. These decreases are thought to be the result of treatment advances, earlier detection through screening, and increased awareness.

• For women in the U.S., breast cancer death rates are higher than those for any other cancer besides lung cancer.

If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with breast cancer, consider turning to Prevention The Ultimate Guide to Breast Cancer, a new comprehensive guide written by Mary L Gemignani, MD, MPH, breast cancer surgeon at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. The new book serves as an essential resource from diagnosis to treatment and beyond.

Filed Under: BREAST CANCER

Published on: October 1, 2013



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