As many are aware, October is dedicated to raising awareness for breast cancer. At Soucy Insurance, we strive to improve the community that we provide for and would like to take this opportunity to inform our valued policyholders of the facts and ways that, together, we can fight breast cancer.
- Professionals have estimated that there will be 232,670 new cases in females and 2,360 in males in 2014
- It is projected that this disease will cause 40,000 deaths in women and 430 in men
- Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women, exceeded only by lung cancer.
- The chance that breast cancer will be responsible for a woman’s death is about 1 in 36 (about 3%).
- Death rates from breast cancer have been declining since about 1989, with larger decreases in women younger than 50.
- These decreases are believed to be the result of earlier detection through screening and increased awareness, as well as improved treatment.
- At this time there are more than 2.8 million breast cancer survivors in the United States
What are the risk factors for breast cancer? Risk factors can range anywhere from gender to the amount of alcohol regularly consumed. Some risk factors cannot be changed, while others are linked to cancer-causing factors in the environment. It is possible that some factors influence risk more than others and that you can help prevent with a change in lifestyle choices.
Some risk factors for breast cancer include:
- Gender – Women have a higher risk factor for developing breast cancer. Men can develop breast cancer, but this disease is about 100 times more common among women.
- Age – Risk increases with age. About 1 out of 8 invasive breast cancers are found in women younger than 45, while about 2 of 3 invasive breast cancers are found in women age 55 or older.
- Family history – Breast cancer risk is higher among women whose close blood relatives have this disease. Having one first-degree relative (mother, sister, or daughter) with breast cancer approximately doubles a woman’s risk.
- Race and ethnicity – Generally, white women are slightly more likely to develop breast cancer than are African-American women, but African-American women have a higher risk of dying from it.
- Previous chest radiation – Women who have had radiation therapy to the chest area as treatment for another cancer (such as lymphoma) have a significantly increased risk for breast cancer.
- Having children – Women who have had no children or who had their first child after age 30 have a slightly higher breast cancer risk overall. Having multiple pregnancies or becoming pregnant at a young age reduce breast cancer risk overall.
- Birth control – Studies have found that women using oral contraceptives (birth control pills) have a slightly greater risk of breast cancer than women who have never used them. However, this risk tends to return to normal over time once the pills are stopped.
- Drinking alcohol – The use of alcohol is clearly linked to an increased risk of developing breast cancer as your risk increases with the amount of alcohol consumed.
- Weight – Being overweight or obese after menopause increases breast cancer risk. Having more fat tissue after menopause can increase your chance of getting breast cancer by raising estrogen levels.
- Physical activity – Evidence is growing that physical activity in the form of exercise reduces breast cancer risk. In one study from the Women’s Health Initiative, as little as 1.25 to 2.5 hours per week of brisk walking reduced a woman’s risk by 18%.
What can I do to prevent getting breast cancer? In addition to lifestyle changes (reducing calorie intake, increasing weekly physical activity), the most important preventative action a woman can take is to get examined by their doctor on a regular basis. Early detection won’t prevent breast cancer, but it can help find when the likelihood of successful treatment is greatest.
What are the treatment options for breast cancer? Treatment options range based on stage, how they work and when they are used. The main types of treatment for breast cancer are:
- Radiation therapy
- Hormone therapy
- Targeted therapy
- Bone-directed therapy
How can I get involved? In addition to the multiple organizations designed to raise money for breast cancer, you can also visit these three sites for further information or to make a donation.
National Cancer Institute
Toll-free number: 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237)
Susan G. Komen for the Cure
Toll-free number: 1-877-465-6636
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Toll-free number: 1-800-232-4636 (1-800-CDC INFO)
Over 90% of people know someone directly affected by cancer. At Soucy Insurance, we want to do all we can to fight this disease and raise awareness to its cause. If you would like to donate or get involved, please visit any of the sites provided because together, we can make a difference.