Breast cancer is, statistically, the most common cancer diagnosed in American women today. The only type of cancer that is more prevalent is skin cancer. It has been estimated that nearly 12% of all women in the United States, which is about 1 in every 8, will develop breast cancer at some point during their lives.
The American Cancer Society has revealed some stark figures for breast cancer in the United States. This year, it is expected that approximately 231,840 new cases of invasive breast cancer in women will be diagnosed. While 60,290 new cases of carcinoma in situ (which is the earliest form of breast cancer) will be diagnosed. Sadly, more than 40,000 women will die of breast cancer this year.
Encouragingly, the incidents of breast cancer began to decrease around 2000 after it had been rising for more than twenty years. Then, from 2002 to 2003, the rates dropped by nearly 7%, which is believed to be due to fewer women using hormone therapy after menopause. Many studies have linked hormone therapy to increased risks of breast cancer and heart disease in women. While incidence rates have stabilized in Caucasian women, there has been a slight increase among African-American women.
Breast cancer is now the second leading cause of cancer deaths among women. Only lung cancer causes more cancer deaths in women, and the chances that a woman will die from breast cancer is about 1 in 36, or 3%. The good news is that death rates from this cancer have been declining since the late 1980’s, with the greatest decreases seen in women under the age of 50. These reductions are mainly attributed to early detection through screening, increased awareness of breast cancer symptoms and improved treatment options.
Today, there are just about three million breast cancer survivors in America, which includes women who are still receiving or who have completed treatment.