Breast Cancer Awareness
There is reason for optimism in 2013 as new breast cancer treatments are showing great promise. The fatality rate for breast cancer has declined by over one third in the U.S. over the last 23 years. Breast Cancer Awareness campaigns have made a positive impact on reducing risks of breast cancer through education.
Mayo Clinic Experts Discuss Breast Cancer Risks, Screening and Treatment
After skin cancer, breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in women in the United States, with more than 238,000 new diagnoses estimated this year. While breast cancer is predominantly found in women, about 1 percent of all breast cancers are diagnosed in men. As with all cancers, patients should be aware of the importance of prevention and early detection in order to give themselves the best opportunity to be treated if cancer is found.
Breast Cancer Statistics
Breast cancer death rates have dropped by 34% since 1990 in all racial/ethnic groups except American Indians/Alaska Natives.
Source: Breast Cancer Statistics, 2013 published in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the first drug to be used in early stage breast cancer treatment. Perjeta (pertuzumab) will be used as part of a complete treatment regimen for patients before surgery (neoadjuvant setting).
Early Access to Treatments
Under the FDA’s accelerated approval program, patients are provided access to promising drugs to treat serious or life-threatening conditions while confirmatory clinical trials are conducted.
Perjeta can be prescribed to patients with HER2-positive, locally advanced, inflammatory or early stage breast cancer (tumor greater than 2 cm in diameter or with positive lymph nodes) who are at high risk of having their cancer return or spread (metastasize) or of dying from the disease.
“We are seeing a significant shift in the treatment paradigm for early stage breast cancer,” said Dr. Richard Pazdur, director of the Office of Hematology and Oncology Products in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “By making effective therapies available to high-risk patients in the earliest disease setting, we may delay or prevent cancer recurrences.”
Reducing Breast Cancer Risk
Women with a family history of breast cancer unfortunately are at a higher risk of developing the disease, but there are some lifestyle changes they can make to lower their overall risk, says Sandhya Pruthi, M.D., a specialist in the Mayo Clinic Breast Clinic. “Lifestyle changes have been shown in studies to decrease breast cancer risk even in high-risk women,” Dr. Pruthi says. She recommends that patients take the following steps to lower their risk:
Don’t smoke. Accumulating evidence suggests a link between smoking and breast cancer risk, particularly in premenopausal women. In addition, not smoking is one of the best things you can do for your overall health.
Limit alcohol. The more alcohol you drink, the greater your risk of developing breast cancer. If you choose to drink alcohol, including beer, wine or liquor, limit yourself to no more than one drink a day.
Control your weight. Being overweight or obese increases the risk of breast cancer. This is especially true if obesity occurs later in life, particularly after menopause.
Be physically active. Physical activity can help you maintain a healthy weight, which, in turn, helps prevent breast cancer.
Breast-feed. Breast-feeding may play a role in breast cancer prevention. The longer you breast-feed, the greater the protective effect.
Limit dose and duration of hormone therapy. Combination hormone therapy for more than three to five years increases the risk of breast cancer. If you’re taking hormone therapy for menopausal symptoms, ask your doctor about other options.
Breast Cancer Defined
Definition of breast cancer: Cancer that forms in tissues of the breast. The most common type of breast cancer is ductal carcinoma, which begins in the lining of the milk ducts (thin tubes that carry milk from the lobules of the breast to the nipple). Another type of breast cancer is lobular carcinoma, which begins in the lobules (milk glands) of the breast. Invasive breast cancer is breast cancer that has spread from where it began in the breast ducts or lobules to surrounding normal tissue. Breast cancer occurs in both men and women, although male breast cancer is rare.
Estimated new cases and deaths from breast cancer in the United States in 2013:
New cases: 232,340 (female); 2,240 (male)
Deaths: 39,620 (female); 410 (male)
Potential Breakthrough in Fight Against Breast Cancer – (Fox News Video, 2013)
Further Reducing Risks of Breast Cancer
Oxidative stress, resulting from the imbalance between prooxidant and antioxidant states, damages DNA, proteins, cell membranes, and mitochondria and seems to play a role in human breast carcinogenesis. Dietary sources of antioxidants (chemical) and endogenous antioxidants (enzymatic), including the polymorphic manganese superoxide dismutase (MnSOD), can act to reduce the load of oxidative stress.
Source-American Association for Cancer Research
Health history can affect the risk of developing breast cancer.
Anything that increases your chance of getting a disease is called a risk factor. Having a risk factor does not mean that you will get cancer; not having risk factors doesn’t mean that you will not get cancer. Talk with your doctor if you think you may be at risk. Risk factors for breast cancer include the following:
|*||Menstruating at an early age.|
|*||Older age at first birth or never having given birth.|
|*||TA personal history of invasive breast cancer, ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS), or benign (noncancer) breast disease.|
|*||A family history (first-degree relative, such as mother, daughter, or sister) of breast cancer.|
|*||Having inherited changes in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes.|
|*||Treatment with radiation therapy to the breast/chest.|
|*||Having breast tissue that is dense on a mammogram.|
|*||Taking hormones such as estrogen and progesterone for symptoms of menopause.|
|*||Having taken the hormone diethylstilbestrol (DES) during pregnancy or being the daughter of a woman who took DES while pregnant.|
|*||Not getting enough exercise.|
|*||Drinking alcoholic beverages.|
NCI’s Breast Cancer Risk Assessment Tool uses a woman’s risk factors to estimate her risk for breast cancer during the next five years and up to age 90. This online tool is meant to be used by a health care provider. For more information on breast cancer risk, call 1-800-4-CANCER.