October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. And while it’s safe to say that just about all of us are “aware” of breast cancer, there are plenty of misconceptions as well. This disease affects millions of families, and it’s the second most common cancer in women (after some skin cancers). In fact, you probably have someone in your family or at least know someone whose family has been affected by breast cancer.
About 1 in 8 U.S. women (or about 12%) will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer in her lifetime. In 2020, that means about 276,000 new cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed in women. And in men, there are over 2,600 new cases of breast cancer diagnosed each year (with a man’s risk of developing breast cancer about 1 in 883).
With so many families affected by this disease, it’s important to recognize that there is hope.
And so, in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we’d like to share these encouraging facts about breast cancer.
Early diagnosis can make a big impact
Finding and beginning treatment for breast cancer early usually means a very good prognosis for patients. The most recent data is available from the years between 2009 and 2015, and in those years, women who received a breast cancer diagnosis before it had spread beyond the breast were 99% as likely to live 5 years beyond diagnosis as women in the general population.
And with 64% of breast cancer cases diagnosed at these early, localized stages, the numbers are very promising.
This is so important!
Although the official recommendations have changed in recent years (talk to your doctor about his or her specific recommendations for you based on your personal and family histories), the American Cancer Society now recommends that women begin annual mammograms at age 45.
While the ACS no longer recommends regular breast self exams, it’s important to talk to your doctor about your specific history and risk. And of course, if you notice unusual changes in one or both breasts, always contact your doctor.
Death rates have been steadily dropping for women over 50
The median age for a breast cancer diagnosis in the United States is 62, with risk increasing as you age. Sadly, this year it is estimated that over 42,000 women will die of breast cancer.
But with early detection and continuously-advancing treatments, the death rate for women over the age of 50 has steadily declined by 1.3% per year between 2013 and 2017.
In fact, between 1989 and 2017, overall breast cancer mortality decreased by a whopping 40% due to massive improvements in breast cancer treatments and screenings. It’s estimated that in those 30+ years, about 376,000 deaths have been avoided thanks to these advancements.
And there are doctors and researchers working on more treatments and more ways to beat this cancer as we speak!
There are MILLIONS of survivors living their best lives right now
If you want to feel inspired and optimistic about breast cancer, simply look at the 3.5 million breast cancer survivors in the U.S. These women are either currently undergoing treatment or have completed their treatment. They are tough, and committed to beating this disease.
We are here for you and your family, whatever the future brings.
Receiving a breast cancer diagnosis is a difficult blow for any family. From assistance with daily activities to more specialized care, Interim HealthCare is here to help ease the stress of a difficult time. To learn more about our home health care services and how they can help your family, contact your nearest Interim HealthCare location today.