|How Much Do You Know About Breast Cancer?|
|Written by Editors, The Menopause Minute|
|Friday, 06 April 2007 05:13|
The pink ribbon symbolizes the great fight against breast cancer. But, how much do you honestly know about it? For American women, breast cancer is the second most common cause of cancer death (following lung cancer)1. The causes are unknown; there is no prevention or cure.With over 2 million women afflicted with breast cancer, it's time to learn the critical facts about how you can reduce your risk.2
If you are a woman, you are at risk for breast cancer. That's all it takes. Caucasian women are more likely to get breast cancer than any other racial or ethnic group.African American women are more likely to die from breast cancer than white women.The median age at death for Caucasian breast cancer patients is 70 years; for African-American breast cancer patients, its 61 years.3
The older a woman is, the more likely she is to get breast cancer. Breast cancer is the leading cause of death in women between the ages of 40 and 55. One woman in eight who lives to age 85 will develop breast cancer during her lifetime.4
Over 2 million breast cancer survivors are alive in America today.Of those women diagnosed with breast cancer 5 years ago, 88% of them are still alive. Of those diagnosed 10 years ago, 80% are still alive; of those diagnosed 20 years ago, 63% are still alive.5 Since we do not know the causes of breast cancer, we cannot prevent it. But we can lower our chances by considering our risk factors and knowing what the numbers mean. Reducing the number of risks should be part of an early detection plan.
0.1. Risk Factors and Prevention
A risk factor is anything that increases your chance of getting a disease. But, having a risk factor does not necessarily mean you are going to get the disease. Most women have no known risk factors except being a woman and getting older. Just because other family members had breast cancer doesn’t mean their disease was inherited. About 5 to 10 percent of all breast cancers occur because of inherited mutations.
Some risk factors are beyond your control. A woman cannot change the fact that breast cancer runs in her family. She can't change her race (Caucasian women are at a slightly higher risk) or stop herself from getting older (77% of breast cancer cases occur in women over age 50). Some factors you can't necessarily control include:
You can control certain risk factors by making through personal lifestyle choices. Recognize the risks that you can control including:
The American Cancer Society recommends the new following guidelines for early detection:
0.3. Symptoms of Breast Cancer
Mammograms can detect cancers found before they cause any symptoms. But, the most common symptom of breast cancer is a new lump or mass. It may be painless, hard or soft, rounded or with uneven edges. It’s important to have any irregularity checked by your health care provider. The American Cancer Society also recognizes these important signs of breast cancer:
If you suspect you might have breast cancer, you will need to undergo other diagnostic tests to detect the extent of the cancer and if it is spreading. These tests may include some of the following:
The Tamoxifen and Rafloxifene Story
Up until menopause, ovaries produce the hormone estrogen. After menopause, the body's fat tissue is converted into estrogen. Estrogen promotes the growth of about two thirds of breast cancers (called hormone receptor positive cancers). Because of this, many women who are treated for breast cancer need to block the effects of estrogen or lower the levels.
Tamoxifen is FDA approved to prevent and treat breast cancer. Taking the drug for 5 years reduces the chances of the cancer coming back by about 50% for women with early breast cancer. Tamoxifen is also taken by women at high risk to prevent breast cancer. In postmenopausal women, tamoxifen is also likely to maintain bone mineral density. In premenopausal women, it is likely to induce bone loss because its major effect is blocking estrogen.
Tamoxifen is associated with the following side effects:
Raloxifene is similar to Tamoxifen in that it stops breast cells from being affected by estrogen. Currently, the FDA has approved raloxifene only for the prevention of osteoporosis in post-menopausal women. Raloxifene has not been studied as long as tamoxifen so information on the drug is still limited.
The STAR (Study of Tamoxifen and Raloxifene) clinical trial revealed both drugs reduced the risk of invasive breast cancer by about the same extent.This trial included more than 19,000 post-menopausal women who were at an increased risk of breast cancer. They were assigned to take either tamoxifen or raloxifene each day for 5 years. One hundred sixty-three breast cancers were found in the tamoxifen group and 168 cases in the raloxifene group.
Raloxifene seems to reduce the risk of invasive breast cancer to the same extent as tamoxifen although it may not reduce the risk of non-invasive cancers to the same degree.Raloxifene may have fewer side effects than tamoxifen but it is not without risks.
Possible side effects of taking raloxifene include:
For information on Breast Self-Exams, visit the American Cancer Society.
Learn more about Mammograms
2Ries LAG, et al. SEER Cancer Statistics Review, 1975-2003. Retrieved June 2006 from the National Cancer Institute website http://seer.cancer.gov/csr/1975_2003/
3NCI SEER CSR 1975-2003; Breast Cancer, Table I-13. Retrieved March 2007 from the National Cancer Institute Website http://seer.cancer.gov/csr/1975_2003/sections.html
4National Breast Cancer Institute. Retrieved March 2007 from National Breast Cancer Institute website http://www.nationalbreastcancer.org/early_detection/index.html
5American Cancer Society, Breast Cancer Facts & Figures 2005-2006. Retrieved 30 March 2007 from http://www.cancer.org/docroot/CRI/CRI_2x.asp?sitearea=&dt=5
|Last Updated on Thursday, 08 March 2012 10:38|