American Cancer Society Encourages Women to Put Their Health First to Fight Breast Cancer
California Women Can Take Steps to Stay Well, Get Well, Find Cures and Fight Back
The American Cancer Society is encouraging women to choose to put their personal breast health first to stay well and reduce their risk of breast cancer during October’s National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in California, regardless of race/ethnicity and an estimated 22,385 new cases of breast cancer are expected to occur among Californians in 2010.
“As the Official Sponsor of Birthdays, the American Cancer Society wants women to see the real tangible benefits of choosing to put their health first,” said Shirley Sayles, volunteer on the American Cancer Society’s Antelope Valley Leadership Council and a breast health advocate. “Women can take action and put their personal breast health first to stay well, fight breast cancer and save lives. More than 1 million California cancer survivors will celebrate a birthday this year thanks to early detection and improved treatment.”
The Society reminds women 40 and older about the importance of getting a mammogram and clinical breast exam every year to find breast cancer in its earliest, most treatable stage, and recommends that women ages 20 to 39 receive a clinical breast exam once every three years. Society also recommends magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) for certain women at high risk. Women at moderate risk should talk with their doctors about the benefits and limitations of adding MRI screening to their yearly mammogram.
While mammography is not perfect, getting a high-quality mammogram is currently the most effective way to detect cancer early because it can identify breast cancer before physical symptoms develop, when the disease is most treatable. Early-stage breast cancer typically produces no symptoms when the tumor is small and most treatable, so it is important that women follow recommended guidelines for finding breast cancer before symptoms develop. On average, mammography will detect about 80 to 90 percent of breast cancers in women without symptoms. Breast cancer survival rates are significantly higher when the cancer has not spread.
Women can reduce their risk of breast cancer by taking additional steps to stay well by maintaining a healthy weight, eating a well-balanced diet, and engaging in physical activity 45 to 60 minutes on five or more days of the week. Also, limiting alcohol consumption can reduce breast cancer risk –one or more alcoholic beverages a day may increase risk.
Another way the American Cancer Society is helping create more birthdays is to help Californians manage their breast cancer experience when and if they are diagnosed. The Society offers newly diagnosed women and those living with breast cancer a number of programs and services to help them get well. Among these is Reach to Recovery, which helps newly diagnosed patients cope with their breast cancer experience. Other programs and resources, like Look Good…Feel Better, help breast cancer patients manage the physical side effects of treatment while Society sponsored walks called Making Strides Against Breast Cancer, allow California communities to come together to raise funds for breast cancer research and breast cancer related patient programs. During October events will take place in the Bay Area, Central Valley, Sacramento, Orange County and San Diego. For information on these events go to http://makingstrides.acsevents.org .
In addition to helping women stay well and get well, the American Cancer Society has a long history of commitment to finding cures for breast cancer. In 2010 the Society awarded 31 grants worth more than $14 million to California research institutions to aid in breast cancer research. Nationally, the Society has invested more than $418.7 million in breast cancer research grants since 1971 and has been an important part of nearly every major breast cancer research breakthrough of the past century, including the funding discoveries that led to the development of Tamoxifen and Herceptin, and promoting the use of mammography to screen for breast cancer.
To find out how you can become involved in the Society’s mission of creating a world with more birthdays, to access the latest cancer information or to learn more about free patient services call 1-800-227-2345 or visit cancer.org.
The American Cancer Society combines an unyielding passion with nearly a century of experience to save lives and end suffering from cancer. As a global grassroots force of more than three million volunteers, we fight for every birthday threatened by every cancer in every community. We save lives by helping people stay well by preventing cancer or detecting it early; helping people get well by being there for them during and after a cancer diagnosis; by finding cures through investment in groundbreaking discovery; and by fighting back by rallying lawmakers to pass laws to defeat cancer and by rallying communities worldwide to join the fight. As the nation’s largest non-governmental investor in cancer research, contributing about $3.4 billion, we turn what we know about cancer into what we do. As a result, more than 11 million people in America who have had cancer and countless more who have avoided it will be celebrating birthdays this year. To learn more about us or to get help, call us anytime, day or night, at 1-800-227-2345 or visit cancer.org.
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Fact Sheet: Breast Cancer | American Cancer Society
Breast Cancer in California
An estimated 22,385 new cases of breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in women in California during 2010.
About 130 men in California will be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in California, regardless of race and/or ethnicity.
An estimated 4,225 breast cancer deaths (4,195 women and 30 men) are expected in 2010.
Breast cancer ranks second among cancer deaths in women (after lung cancer).
The five-year survival rate for breast cancer is 98 percent among individuals whose cancer has not spread beyond the breast at the time of diagnosis.
Breast Cancer in the United States
An estimated 207,090 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in women in the United States during 2010.
About 1,970 men in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010.
Breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed non-skin cancer in women.
An estimated 40,230 breast cancer deaths (39,840women and 390 men) are expected in 2010.
Breast cancer ranks second among cancer deaths in women (after lung cancer).
The five-year survival rate for breast cancer is 98 percent among individuals whose cancer has not spread beyond the breast at the time of diagnosis.
Being female and increasing age are the most important risk factors for breast cancer.
Other important factors that increase a woman’s risk for developing breast cancer include certain inherited genetic mutations (BRCA1 and BRCA2), a personal or family history of breast cancer, high breast-tissue density as seen on mammograms, biopsy-confirmed hyperplasia, and a history of high-dose radiation therapy to the chest.
Other risk factors include a long menstrual history, being overweight or becoming obese after menopause, recent use of oral contraceptives, use of postmenopausal hormone therapy, never having children or having one’s first child after 30, consumption of one or more alcoholic beverages per day, and being physically inactive.
Mammography can identify breast cancer at an early stage, usually before physical symptoms develop when the disease is most treatable. Yearly mammograms are recommended starting at age 40 and continuing for as long as a woman is in good health.
At this time, breast cancer cannot be prevented, which is why regular mammograms are so important. Still, there are things women can do to choose to put their health first and lower their risk of developing breast cancer. Women’s best overall preventive health strategies are to:
o Maintain a healthy body weight
o Engage in regular physical activity
o Reduce alcohol consumption
To find the Society’s complete breast cancer early detection and nutrition and physical activity guidelines, visit cancer.org.
The Society offers people facing breast cancer free services to overcome daily challenges, like transportation, lodging, guidance through every step of the cancer experience, and information to help them make decisions about their care.
Trained American Cancer Society volunteers who are also breast cancer survivors provide one-on-one support to newly diagnosed patients through the Society’s Reach to Recovery® program.
The Society partners with volunteer beauty professionals to deliver Look Good…Feel Better, a community-based free service. It teaches women beauty tips to look better and feel good about how they look during chemotherapy and radiation treatments.
Working to Find Cures
In 2010 the Society awarded 31 grants worth more than $14 million to California research institutions to aid in breast cancer research.
The Society has spent more on breast cancer research than on any other cancer – having invested more than $418.7 million nationally in breast cancer research grants since 1971. The majority of the Society’s basic cancer research projects also have a potential benefit for breast cancer.
The Society has played a part in many major breast cancer research breakthroughs in recent history, including demonstrating that mammography is an effective screening test for breast cancer, the development of tamoxifen and herceptin, and knowledge that genetics, diet, lack of exercise, and moderate drinking increase a person’s cancer risk.
The American Cancer Society Making Strides Against Breast Cancer® event unites communities across the nation each year to help save lives from breast cancer and provide hope to people facing the disease. Since 1993, nearly six million walkers have raised more than $400 million through Making Strides. To learn more or join the movement, visit cancer.org/stridesonline.
Making Strides events will take place in the following California areas in October 2010:
Central Valley – October 3
Orange County – October 10
Greater Sacramento – October 17
San Diego – October 17
Bay Area – October 23 & 30
The Society and its advocacy affiliate – the American Cancer Society Cancer Action NetworkSM (ACS CAN) – advocate for important legislation and public programs that provide increased access to breast cancer screenings, outreach and education, follow-up care and treatment for all people. Currently, ACS CAN is working to promote the need for and importance of increasing funding for the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (NBCCEDP), which provides low-income, uninsured and underinsured women access to mammograms and follow-up services. Visit www.acscan.org/breastcancer to support increased funding for the NBCCEDP, which would enable hundreds of thousands more women to be served.
Through the Society’s many breast cancer programs, there are numerous volunteer opportunities, such as driving patients to treatment, providing one-on-one support, helping mobilize community members to participate in Making Strides Against Breast Cancer, and much more.
Frequently Asked Questions: Breast Cancer in California
1. How many women are affected by breast cancer?
Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in California, regardless of race and/or ethnicity. An estimated 22,385 women in California will be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010, and 4,195 women will die from the disease this year. Among California women, breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death after lung cancer.
2. Is breast cancer the most common cancer among California women?
Breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer among women.
3. What are the Society’s recommended guidelines for the early detection of breast cancer using mammography?
Based on an expert panel’s review of the historic and recent evidence, the Society recommends the following methods for early detection of breast cancer using mammography:
Women at average risk should begin annual mammography at age 40. Women should have an opportunity to become informed about the benefits, limitations, and potential harms associated with regular screening.
4. Does mammography save lives?
While mammography is not perfect, getting a high-quality mammogram is currently the most effective way to detect cancer early because it can identify breast cancer before physical symptoms develop, when the disease is most treatable.
Breast cancer incidence in California has been fairly stable since 1988. More cancers are being diagnosed at an early stage, and the rate of late-stage disease has declined. Breast cancer deaths in California have dropped by more than 31% due to the combined effects of better treatment and earlier diagnosis. While this is very good news for California women, breast cancer incidence rates may begin to rise in the next decade as the large number of women born after World War II reach the age in which breast cancer becomes more common.
• In 2008, 64% of women of screening age reported they had a mammogram in the past year, compared to only 39% in 1987. However, a recent trend in mammography rates reflect as much as a 4% decline nationwide.
5. Does the United States Preventive Service Task Force (USPSTF) recommendation change in November of 2009 change what the Society’ recommends?
There is NO new evidence that would lead the American Cancer Society to change its guidance to women about mammography screening for breast cancer. We strongly urge women to continue to follow our guidelines.
6. How different are the 2009 mammography recommendations from the United States Preventive Service Task Force (USPSTF) from ACS guidelines for women in their 40s?
Like the American Cancer Society, the USPSTF recognizes that there is convincing evidence that mammography reduces the risk of death from breast cancer. The USPSTF concludes that the decision to start regular screening before age 50 should be individualized and take into account patient context including her values regarding specific benefits and harms, such as the anxiety associated with false positive exams and the possibility of having to undergo a biopsy for an abnormality that ultimately will be determined to be not be cancer. The American Cancer Society’s guideline also says women should have an opportunity to become informed about the benefits, limitations, and these potential harms associated with regular screening, but we also recommend that all women age 40 and over should get annual mammograms.
7. Can men get breast cancer?
Breast cancer in men is rare, but it does occur. An estimated 130 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer in California in 2010, and approximately 30 will die of the disease. Currently there is no technology to detect male breast cancer. The best way for a man to protect himself is to be aware of how his breasts normally look and feel and to discuss any changes with his health care provider.
8. Who is most at risk for developing breast cancer?
Several factors contribute to the risk of developing breast cancer. Aside from being female, age is the main risk factor. As age increases, so does the risk of developing breast cancer. In fact, more than three out of four women who are diagnosed with breast cancer are 50 or older. Family history and genetics also contribute. Postmenopausal obesity and weight gain are risk factors, as are having a personal history of breast cancer, certain types of benign breast disease and several hormone-related factors.
9. What effect does a family history of breast cancer have on a woman’s risk of getting the disease?
Women with a strong family history of early breast cancer – two or more close relatives diagnosed before age 50 – are at increased risk of developing the disease. However, the majority of women diagnosed with breast cancer have no close relatives (mother, sister or daughter) with the disease, and most women with a family history will not develop breast cancer.
10. Why is early detection important?
Numerous studies have shown that early detection – having a yearly mammogram – saves lives and increases treatment options. The five-year survival rate for breast cancer is 98 percent among individuals whose cancer has not spread beyond the breast at time of diagnosis.
11. What is a mammogram?
A mammogram is a low-dose x-ray procedure that enables doctors to see the internal structure of the breast and possibly detect breast cancers that cannot be felt. These smaller tumors are more likely to be confined to the breast, meaning treatment is more likely to be successful.
12. When should women have mammograms?
Yearly mammograms are recommended starting at age 40 and continuing for as long as a woman is in good health. Women with serious health problems or short life expectancy should discuss ongoing early detection testing with their health care providers. The American Cancer Society’s current breast cancer screening guidelines are as follows:
Yearly mammograms are recommended starting at age 40 and continuing for as long as a woman is in good health.
A clinical breast exam should be part of a periodic health exam, about every three years for women in their 20s and 30s and every year for women age 40 and older.
Women should know how their breasts normally look and feel and report any breast change promptly to their health care providers. Breast self-exam is an option for women starting in their 20s.
The American Cancer Society recommends that some women – because of their family history, a genetic tendency, or certain other factors – be screened with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in addition to mammograms. (The number of women who fall into this category is less than 2 percent of all the women in the United States.) Women who think they are in this category should talk with their doctor about their history and whether they should have an MRI with their mammogram. They may also call the American Cancer Society for more information about screening.
13. What should women do to stay well other than get yearly mammograms?
In addition to finding breast cancer early through mammography, women can help reduce breast cancer risk by choosing to put their health first and making healthy lifestyle choices to stay well. Many studies indicate that being overweight increases the risk of breast cancer among post-menopausal women Kushi LH, Byers T, Doyle C, et al. American Cancer Society Guidelines on Nutrition and Physical Activity for cancer prevention: reducing the risk of cancer with healthy food choices and physical activity. CA Cancer J Clin. Sep-Oct 2006;56(5):254-281, so all women should strive to maintain a healthy weight. In addition, moderate to vigorous physical activity has been shown to decrease breast cancer risk among both pre-menopausal and post-menopausal women Weight control and physical activity, vol. Vol. 6. Lyon, France: International Agency for Research on Cancer, 2002.. Weight control and regular physical activity are also important for breast cancer survivors. There is convincing data that obesity is associated with breast cancer recurrence Weight control and physical activity, vol. Vol. 6. Lyon, France: International Agency for Research on Cancer, 2002., and data from a large study of breast cancer survivors showed that higher levels of post-treatment physical activity were associated with a 26 percent to 40 percent reduction in the risk of breast cancer recurrence, breast cancer-specific mortality, and all-cause mortality Holmes MD, Chen WY, Feskanich D, Kroenke CH, Colditz GA. Physical activity and survival after breast cancer diagnosis. Jama 2005;293(20):2479-86.. Healthy lifestyle choices such as maintaining a healthy weight, getting regular exercise, and limiting alcohol intake are critical components of breast health.
14. Does mammography detect all breast cancers?
While mammograms detect the majority of breast cancers, they are not perfect and fail to detect about 10 to 20 percent of breast cancers. Women with negative mammograms and who find a change in their breast should be certain that their breast change is evaluated by their doctor.
15. Is mammography the only technology currently used to screen for breast cancer?
Mammography is the standard tool for early detection today. Other imaging techniques, however, are under investigation. These include MRI, positron emission tomography (PET), and ultrasound. Some of the techniques are currently used to follow up on suspicious findings from a physical exam or mammogram or along with mammography in women with increased risk for breast cancer.
16. Are breast cancer screenings covered by insurance?
Medicare provides coverage for yearly screening-mammography for female beneficiaries age 40 and older. Unlike other Medicare benefits, the deductible is waived for mammography. For a diagnostic mammogram, the patient pays the deductible, in addition to the copayment. Additionally, most states ensure that private insurance companies, Medicaid and public employee health plans provide coverage and reimbursement for the early detection of breast cancer.
17. When should women perform breast self-examinations? What if they detect a lump?
Women should always be aware of how their breasts normally look and feel. If a woman chooses to do breast self-examinations, she should do it regularly, preferably monthly. While research does not show that doing breast self-examination reduces breast cancer deaths, the exam may provide self-awareness and heightened sensitivity to important breast changes. If a lump is detected, a woman should see her health care professional as soon as possible for an evaluation.
18. What are the signs and symptoms of breast cancer?
Breast cancer can be detected by the appearance of irregular images on mammograms. Other signs include persistent breast changes, such as a lump, thickening, swelling, dimpling, skin irritation, distortion, retraction, scaliness, ulceration, pain and tenderness of the nipple, or spontaneous nipple discharge. During a breast examination, lymph nodes in the armpit and above the collarbone may be felt for enlargement or firmness, which might indicate the spread of breast cancer.
19. What additional activities is the American Cancer Society involved with related to breast cancer?
The American Cancer Society is a leading advocate for the early detection of breast cancer. The Society is especially focused on advocacy efforts that will increase funding for California’s Every Woman Counts program, which provides breast cancer screening and treatment for medically uninsured women in California.
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