There is estimated to be 235,000 new cases of cancer diagnosed this year. Breast cancer is a disease in which the breast cells grow out of control, eventually forming a lump or mass. Each year the breast cancer survival is improving due to both the advancement in surgical techniques, improved tumor suppressing drugs and chemotherapy, as well as better targeted radiation methods. Early detection, like any disease, is vital to the survival rate of those patients affected by breast cancer. It is currently estimated that 1 in every 8 women in the U.S will develop breast cancer at some point during their lives. And while women of Caucasian decent are more likely to develop breast cancer, the mortality rate is higher among African American women. According to the latest published data from the National Cancer Institute, the 5 year breast cancer survival rate is now at almost 90%.

Other symptoms of breast cancer are:

  • Sudden nipple discharge
  • Itchy, rash-like appearance on the nipple
  • Sudden swelling or redness
  • Change in the shape and or size of the breast
  • Dimpling of the skin on the breast
  • Persistent localized pain

It important to remember that these symptoms can also be due to other health factors, but should also be examined by a breast specialist so that it can be properly diagnosed.

There is NO ONE cause of breast cancer. Genetics, environmental factors, drug use, and other behavioral choices all play a role. The majority of women who develop breast cancer have no identifiable risk factors other than being a woman in the western hemisphere in the 21st century.

Some women do have additional risks:

  • Caucasian and Jewish women have the highest incidence of breast cancer;
  • Women of color have a lower rate of breast cancer but a higher mortality;

Women with a history of breast cancer have a lifelong increased risk of recurrence. Because of this increased risk, women who have been previous diagnosed with breast cancer must continue to be closely followed by their physician throughout the rest of their life. Typically speaking, being cancer free for longer than a five year duration is very encouraging, but does not mean that the cancer will never return. Some women with a history of breast cancer may even develop a recurrence or a completely separate cancer after more than 20 years of being cancer free. Knowing your risk and family history are vital components to detection and survival.

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