Things Women Should Know About Breast Cancer
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Everyone knows someonea family member, friend, colleague, or neighborthat has battled breast cancer. In 2021 alone, about 281,000 women will receive an invasive breast cancer diagnosis, along with 50,000 women who will be diagnosed with a non-invasive form of the disease.
While men can also get it, the chance of a woman developing breast cancer is much higher. Whether you’re approaching your first annual screening or you have a family history, understanding the signs, types, and prevention strategies can help you put your health first. Here’s what you need to know this breast cancer awareness month.
How Is Prognosis Estimated
Prognosis is estimated by looking at what has happened over many years to large groups of people diagnosed with a similar cancer. However, everyones situation is different so no one can say for certain what will happen to you. Also, treatments and survival rates are constantly improving, which affects the accuracy of estimates for people being treated today.
Prognosis is described in different ways. It may be put into words or numbers. Its often expressed as a five- or ten-year survival rate. This is an estimate of how many people are likely to be alive five or ten years following their diagnosis.
A 90% five-year survival rate means that 90 out of 100 people diagnosed with breast cancer are likely to be alive five years after their diagnosis. It doesnt mean these people will only live for five years it just states how many people are likely to be alive at that point.
Cancer Research UK has general statistics on five- and ten-year breast cancer survival rates on their website. Remember, these statistics are based on large groups of patients and cannot predict what will happen in your individual case.
What Are The Chances Of Breast Cancer Recurrence After Treatment For Stage 2 Breast Cancer
In women who have breast-conserving treatment, the chance of recurrence is about 3-15% in 10 years, depending on tumor characteristics and margins. Distant recurrence in those who had mastectomy is most influenced by axillary lymph node involvement. When axillary lymph nodes are not cancerous, the recurrence rate is 6% in 5 years. When axillary lymph nodes are cancerous, the recurrence rate is 23% in 5 years with mastectomy but no radiation.
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Treating Breast Cancer In People Age 70 And Up
Older age increases the risk of several types of breast cancer. But advancements in diagnosis and highly individualized treatment plans are increasing the odds of recovery for older patients and making it possible for many to live longer, healthier lives.
Breast surgeon Hanh-Tam Tran, M.D., explains what people age 70 and older should know about being diagnosed with breast cancer and why theres reason for hope.
What Is The Best Breast Cancer Treatment For Older Patients
In gauging which treatment might be best for an individual, Tran looks at the characteristics of the tumor. This can help identify tumors that are likely to respond to hormone-blocking therapy alone and those that may respond to other modes of treatment.
Genomic breast cancer tests can map the genome of the cancer cells and help reveal their sensitivity to hormone-blocking treatment, chemotherapy or both. Though Tran says oncotype tests are not appropriate for every patient, for some people with invasive cancers that are larger than 0.5 centimeters and estrogen positive, the tests can provide information on how likely a particular cancer is to return after therapy.
Tran says that in late 2019 and early 2020, genomic tests for breast cancer were improved, and they can now yield clues on more advanced breast cancers, even those that have infiltrated the lymph nodes. Using these data, your doctor is better prepared than ever to recommend a treatment plan to bring breast cancer under control.
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Should Women Under Age 40 Have Regular Mammograms
In general, regular screening mammograms in the absence of breast symptoms are not recommended for women under 40 years old, in part, because breast tissue tends to be more dense in young women, making mammograms less effective as a screening tool. In addition, most experts believe the low risk of developing breast cancer at a young age does not justify the radiation exposure of mammography. However, screening mammograms may be recommended for younger women with a family history of breast cancer and other risk factors.
Breast Cancer Stats In Australia
Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Australia. Approximately 55 Australians are diagnosed each and every day. That equates to over 20,000 Australians diagnosed with breast cancer each year.
1 in 7 women are diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime.
About 1 in 700 men are diagnosed in their lifetime.
In 2021, over 3000 Australians passed away from breast cancer including 36 males and 3102 females.
Thats 9 Australians a day dying from the disease.
In the last 10 years, breast cancer diagnosis have increased by 36%.
Since the National Breast Cancer Foundation started funding in 1994, the five-year survival rates have improved from 76% to 91%.
Weve come a long way. But theres still progress to be made.
Thats why were committed to funding a broad spectrum of research to help understand risk factors, develop new ways to detect and treat breast cancer, improve quality of life for breast cancer patients, improve treatment outcomes and ultimately save lives.
Our mission: Zero Deaths from breast cancer by 2030.
The risk of a woman being diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime is 1 in 7. The majority of breast cancer cases, about 80%, occur in women over the age of 50.
But breast cancer still occurs in young women, with close to 1000 women under the age of 40 projected to be diagnosed with the disease in 2021.
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Age At Diagnosis And Mortality Rates
In the past younger women tended to have a poorer prognosis.
One medical study examined 4,453 women with breast cancer over a 30 year period, all treated at the same center. The study showed that in general, women under the age of 40 years had a statistically poorer prognosis.
Furthermore, older ladies, over the age of 80 years at diagnosis also had a poorer prognosis.
Incidence And Survival Rates
Breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer among women in 140 of 180 countries worldwide. Between 2008 and 2012 breast cancer incidence increased by 20 per cent, while mortality has increased by 14 per cent. In the US, it is estimated that there are currently 3.1 million breast cancer survivors.
Overall survival rates for breast cancer vary world wide, but in general survival rates have improved. This is because the majority of breast cancer cases are diagnosed at an earlier and localised stage, and improved surgery and adjuvant tailored treatment regimes are available. In many countries the five-year survival rate for women diagnosed with Stage I/II breast cancer is 8090 per cent. If it has reached the distant stage the survival rate falls to 24 per cent. The five-year prevalence of breast cancer per 100,000 is 665 in Western Europe, 745 in North America, and 170 in Eastern Asia.
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Enhancing Healthcare Team Outcomes
After the treatment of breast cancer, long-term follow-up is necessary. There is a risk of local and distant relapse, and hence an interprofessional team approach is necessary. The women need regular mammograms and a pelvic exam. Also, women with risk factors for osteoporosis need a bone density exam and monitoring for tumor markers for metastatic disease. For those who are about to undergo radiation therapy, a baseline echo and cardiac evaluation are necessary. Even though many types of integrative therapies have been developed to help women with breast cancer, evidence for the majority of these treatments is weak or lacking.
Over the past four decades, the survival rates of most breast cancer patients have improved. Of note is that the presence of breast cancer has gradually slowed down over the past decade, which may be due to earlier detection and improved treatments. The prognosis for patients with breast cancer is highly dependent on the status of axillary lymph nodes. The higher the number of positive lymph nodes, the worse the outcome. In general, hormone-responsive tumors tend to have a better outcome. In breast cancer survivors, adverse cardiac events are common this is partly due to the cardiotoxic drugs to treat cancer and the presence of traditional risk factors for heart disease. The onus is on the healthcare provider to reduce the modifiable risk factors and lower the risk of adverse cardiac events. [Level 5)
More On Global Differences In Breast Cancer Mortality
It has been suggested that when survival rates are compared in different parts of the world, the main factor affecting mortality is the stage of disease at the time of diagnosis.
According to a 2008 medical study, breast cancer survival rates across all ages is about 80% in North America, Western Europe, Scandinavia, Japan, and Australia.
However, this figure drops to less than 60% in poorer countries like Brazil and Slovakia.
Breast cancer survival rate in the UK is slightly less than the European and North American average. It is between 70% and 79%.
In Canada, the five-year survival rate for breast cancer is estimated at about 86% and has actually increased by about 25% since 1986.
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Taking Charge: Who Gets Breast Cancer
There are no rules about who gets this disease. The two most significant risk factors are being a woman, and increasing age. However, there are other factors that may increase your risk, and some that may lower it.
The development of breast cancer may be influenced by factors that affect the levels of female hormones that circulate in your body throughout life. These factors include the age when you began your menstrual period, the number of times you have been pregnant, your age at first pregnancy, whether you have breastfed your children, and your level of physical activity.
Individualized Breast Cancer Treatment For Older Adults
Tran says her groups approach to dealing with breast cancer in patients of any age is highly individualized. We recommend both the treatments and the order in which the patient will receive them, which is very important. For instance, radiation is not common before surgery, since it makes wound healing more difficult.
She notes that most cancers are found early, and generally surgery is the first step in treatment. But for cancers that are more advanced when they are diagnosed, starting out with chemotherapy can offer some advantages.
In cases where the cancer is advanced, chemotherapy is often done first to shrink the tumor. Another benefit of doing chemotherapy first is the tumors response to the chemotherapy gives us information on your prognosis, and surgery afterward can confirm those findings.
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Breast Cancer Mortality Rates Over Time
Breast cancer mortality rates in the U.S. increased slowly from 1975 through the 1980s .
From 1989-2018 , the breast cancer mortality rate decreased by 41 percent due to improved breast cancer treatment and early detection . Since 1989, about 403,200 breast cancer deaths in U.S. women have been avoided .
The breast cancer mortality rate in women decreased by about one percent per year from 2014-2018 . Different breast cancer mortality rate trends may have been seen in some groups of women.
What Questions Should I Ask My Doctor
You will have lots of questions about your cancer, starting with your diagnosis. Here are some basic questions you might ask:
- What is triple negative breast cancer?
- How do you know my cancer is triple negative breast cancer?
- Why did I get this cancer?
- Do I need genetic testing?
- Has my breast cancer spread, and if so, how far has it spread?
- What is the stage of my cancer?
- What is my prognosis or expected outcome?
- What treatments do you recommend?
- Why do you recommend those treatments?
- What are those treatment side effects?
- Will I need surgery? If so, what surgery do you recommend and why?
- Im interested in participating in clinical trials. Are you able to help me find one?
- Do you know if there are any local support groups?
A note from Cleveland Clinic
Triple negative breast cancer is one of the more challenging breast cancers to treat. You might be discouraged by what you have read about triple negative breast cancer. But there are a number of very effective treatments for triple negative breast cancer, including immunotherapy, chemotherapy, surgery and radiation. And every day researchers learn more about this rare cancer. Their knowledge is your power. If youre concerned you arent getting the straight story about your cancer, ask your healthcare provider to walk you through your diagnosis and treatment options.
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Take Action To Change Young Adult Breast Cancer Statistics
When all young adults affected by breast cancer work together, we can raise awareness, improve our representation in research and make each other stronger. We are dedicated to these goals, working to turn our unique challenges into opportunities for shared success. Join the movement! Become an advocate for young women with breast cancer.
Living With Stage : The Breast Cancer No One Understands
Editor’s note: We’re bringing back this piece from October 2014 for Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day and to honor Jody Schoger, featured in the story. Schoger died of metastatic breast cancer in May. Want to learn more about MBC? Look for our tweets at the Northwest Metastatic Breast Cancer Conference this Saturday at Fred Hutch.
A no-nonsense Texan of 60 years, Jody Schoger* has a very no-nonsense way of educating people about her metastatic breast cancer.
âSomeone will say, âWhen are you done with treatment?â and Iâll tell them, âWhen Iâm dead,ââ said Schoger, a writer and cancer advocate who lives near Houston. âSo many people interpret survivorship as going across the board. That everybody survives cancer now. But everybody does not survive cancer.â
An estimated 155,000-plus women in the U.S. currently live with âmets,â or metastatic breast cancer. This type of cancer, also called stage 4 breast cancer, means the cancer has metastasized, or traveled, through the bloodstream to create tumors in the liver, lungs, brain, bones and/or other parts of the body. Between 20 and 30 percent of women with early stage breast cancer go on to develop metastatic disease. While treatable, metastatic breast cancer cannot be cured. The five-year survival rate for stage 4 breast cancer is 22 percent median survival is three years. Annually, the disease takes 40,000 lives.
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When Is Radiation Usually Used To Treat Stage 2 Breast Cancer
According to the American Cancer Society, radiation therapy may be used after lumpectomy to mitigate the risk of cancer cells recurring in the same breast or nearby lymph nodes. After a mastectomy, an oncologist may determine that radiation is necessary if the tumor was larger than 5 cm, if there was lymph node involvement, or if cancer was found outside of surgical margins.
A Clinical Trial Could Offer Innovative Treatment Options Not Yet Widely Available
A clinical trial is a research study that uses either treatments not yet available to the general public or available treatments used in new ways or new combinations. Clinical trials are safe and effective options that can improve how breast cancer is treated. At MedStar Health, we run nearly 25 breast cancer trials at any given time to give our patientsaccess to groundbreaking cancer treatments. Currently, we’re participating in a nationwide trial to see if certain DCIS cases can be treated with an anti-hormone pill instead of using surgery as the first line of defense.
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The Relative Mortality Risk Of Breast Cancer Compared To Deaths From All Causes
The risk of death from breast cancer, for women aged 40-49, is 0.35%, or 1 in 291. By comparison, the risk for death from all causes in about 2.7%, or 1 in 39.
50-59-year-olds have a mortality risk from breast cancer of about 0.65 %, or 1 in 155, compared to an all-cause mortality risk of 6.6%, or 1 in 16.
Women aged 60-69 have approximately a 0.9% chance of mortality from breast cancer or 1 in 112. This compares to mortality risk from all causes at about 15% or 1 in 7.
For women over 70, the risk of death due to breast cancer is about 1.15% or 1 in 87, whilst the risk of death from all causes is about 34% or 1 in 3.
So, whilst the chances of a woman developing some form of breast cancer during her entire lifetime are relatively high at approximately 1 in 8 or 1 in 9, breast cancer does not account for high mortality rates compared to death by all causes.
This means that for women aged 40-49, that death due to breast cancer accounts for perhaps 15% to 16% of all deaths.
For those aged 50-59 breast cancer accounts for perhaps 14% of all mortality rates. For women aged 60-69 breast cancer is about 10% of the overall mortality risk, whilst for women over 70 the risk of mortality due to breast cancer is only about 5%.
What Is Stage 3 Breast Cancer
Also known as locally advanced breast cancer, the tumor in this stage of breast cancer is more than 2 inches in diameter across and the cancer is extensive in the underarm lymph nodes or has spread to other lymph nodes or tissues near the breast. Stage 3 breast cancer is a more advanced form of invasive breast cancer. At this stage, the cancer cells have usually not spread to more distant sites in the body, but they are present in several axillary lymph nodes. The tumor may also be quite large at this stage, possibly extending to the chest wall or the skin of the breast.
Stage 3 breast cancer is divided into three categories:
Stage 3A: One of the following is true:
- No tumor is found in the breast, but cancer is present in axillary lymph nodes that are attached to either other or other structures, or cancer may be found in the lymph nodes near the breast bone, or
- The tumor is 2 cm or smaller. Cancer has spread to axillary lymph nodes that are attached to each other or other structures, or cancer may have spread to lymph nodes near the breastbone, or
- The tumor is 2 cm to 4 cm in size. Cancer has spread to axillary lymph nodes that are attached to each other or to other structures, or cancer may have spread to lymph nodes near the breast bone, or
- The tumor is larger than 5 cm. Cancer has spread to axillary lymph nodes that may be attached to each other or to other structures, or cancer may have spread to lymph nodes near the breastbone.
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