Did you know that breast cancer is the most common cancer in U.S. women, except for skin cancer?
Most people know someone who has breast cancer. But do you know how common the disease really is? In the United States, 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed in her lifetime. That means more women are diagnosed with this cancer than any other, excluding skin cancer. The good news is that there are fewer deaths from breast cancer each year, in part because of new treatments.
Here are 9 key facts about breast cancer.
- Anyone can get breast cancer.
- Breast cancer is more common after menopause, but younger women can develop it too. Men can also be diagnosed with the disease, although it’s rare. There are some factors that increase the risk of developing breast cancer, including being overweight (in older women) and greater amounts of alcohol use. However, for most people diagnosed with breast cancer, doctors can’t identify a specific cause.
- Screening can find early breast cancer.
- Finding breast cancer at an early stage with tests like mammograms is important. Women should talk with their doctors about when to be screened for breast cancer and how often.
- Family history is an important risk factor for breast cancer.
- While most people diagnosed with breast cancer don’t have a family history of the disease, some do. About 1 in every 10 or 20 women with breast cancer has a change in a gene that increases her risk. If you have several family members with breast cancer, especially breast cancer occurring before age 50, or relatives with ovarian, pancreatic, or prostate cancer, talk to your doctor about testing for genetic causes of cancer.
- There are different kinds of breast cancer.
- Hormone receptor-positive: About two-thirds of breast cancers are fed by the hormone estrogen. This means that estrogen in the body helps the tumor grow. The treatment for hormone receptor-positive breast cancer typically includes drugs that block the effects of hormones, although it may also include chemotherapy.
- HER2-positive: About 1 in 5 breast cancers have extra copies of a type of protein called HER2 that helps tumor cells grow. Antibodies that block this protein help treat the cancer. Although HER2-positive breast cancer tends to be more aggressive, many new antibodies and other medicines are very effective treatments.
- Triple-negative: This means that none of the common proteins are found in this type of breast cancer. It isn’t fed by hormones and is HER2-negative. Typically, triple-negative breast cancer is treated with chemotherapy, but many new treatment drugs for it are in development.
- People with breast cancer are often treated by a cancer care team
- Many different people with different specialties are often included in the cancer care team. This is called a multidisciplinary team. A breast cancer care team may include:
- Surgeons. A surgeon generally removes the tumor in the breast and surrounding lymph nodes.
- Radiation oncologists. A radiation oncologist treats cancer using radiation therapy, which is often given after surgery to decrease the risk of cancer coming back in the breast and chest area.
- Medical oncologists. Medical oncologists treat breast cancer with drugs such as chemotherapy, anti-hormone therapy, and other targeted therapies to decrease the chance of cancer returning or to treat cancer that has spread throughout the body.
- Oncology nurse. Oncology nurses serve many roles in cancer care. An oncology nurse may give physical examinations, give chemotherapy and other medications, coordinate care with the other members of the cancer care team, provide education and counseling to patients and families, and more.
- Social workers. Clinical social workers help patients, family members, and other caregivers cope with everyday tasks and challenges before, during, and after breast cancer treatment.
- Genetic counselors. Genetic counselors discuss whether or not genetic testing is appropriate based on an individual’s personal and family history of breast cancer and other cancers.
- Financial counselors. Financial counselors help with insurance-related issues and financial aid.
|Read on: What You Need to Know About Breast Cancer|