The realities of breast cancer

Breast cancer is the third-largest killer of women in the United States, following heart disease and skin cancer.

In the United States during 2001, 192,000 women will be diagnosed as having breast cancer; 20,900 will come from California.

In 2001, 40,200 women are expected to die in the United States from breast cancer; 4,205 will be from California, and, closer yet, 35 will be from Butte County.

In 1999, the age-adjusted death rate due to female breast cancer in Butte County was 23.7 per 100,000 population, according to the county Health Department.

Most breast cancer cases occur in the 50-to-59 age group; however, the most fatalities occur in the 70-and-over group.

There is a 97-percent five-year survival rate if the cancerous tumor is found before spreading. This drops to 21 percent if detected afterward.

White women are the most likely to get breast cancer.

Breast cancer accounts for 31 percent of all cancers affecting women.

Risk factors include: a family history of breast cancer, never having children or having your first child after age 30, an early-starting menstrual cycle, use of oral contraceptives, alcohol consumption and fat intake.

Early detection is key. The American Cancer Society recommends women 40 and older have an annual mammogram. Women 20 to 39 should have a clinical breast exam every three years, and all women should perform monthly breast self-examination.

40 to 50 anti-angigenesis compounds (drugs that starve the tumor of blood) are in development.

Studies are underway trying to determine the emotional ramifications of breast cancer.

Two million Californians alive today will contract breast cancer in their lifetimes.

Full-term pregnancy reduces the lifetime risk of breast cancer.

More than two alcoholic drinks a day may increase breast cancer risk by up to 25 percent.

Mammograms will detect 90 percent of breast cancers in women with no symptoms.

Eating fish with the n-3 fatty acid (salmon, tuna, trout, etc.) decreases breast cancer tumors’ ability to stimulate blood vessels.

Only 27 percent of Hmong women in California have ever had a mammogram.

Invasive breast cancer cases have been decreasing by 10 percent every five years due to increased public awareness.

1 in 22 women will get breast cancer by age 60.

Low-cost or free mammograms are offered through many local or state health departments.

The lack of a doctor’s recommendation for a mammogram is a top-ranked barrier for nearly all groups of women.

71 percent of women with breast cancer survive 10 years after diagnosis, and 57 percent survive 15 years.

The localized breast cancer survival rate has increased from 72 percent in the 1940s to 96 percent today.

Common treatments are: a combination of lumpectomy (tumor removal) and the removal of lymph nodes under the arms, a mastectomy and the lymph node removal, and then radiation, chemotherapy or hormone therapy.

Men can also get breast cancer. In 2001, 1,500 American men will be diagnosed; 150 of these men will come from California; 35 will die. The prognosis for males is often poorer than for women because men tend to be diagnosed after the cancer has progressed.

Recent research has shown spontaneous or induced abortion and silicone implants do not increase the risk of breast cancer.

48 percent of women living in households with an income of less than $15,000 have had a recent mammogram, compared to 65 percent of women with household incomes of $35,000 or more per year.

African-American women have the highest mortality rate from breast cancer.

Yearly, $23.7 billion is contributed to breast cancer research