Breast cancer: What you didn't know

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With one in eight American women developing breast cancer, most of us know someone who has fought this terrible disease.

But there are still some lesser-known breast cancer facts.

Did you know that most lumps are not breast cancer? About 90% of lumps are something else.

Researcher Svasti Haricharan says breast cancer has other warning signs.

"A lot of women are not aware of that fact that just having redness or a rash can be a sign of breast cancer, actually a sign of really aggressive breast cancer that shows up really quickly and then metastasizes and results in death really quickly," Haricharan said.

There are some risk factors over which you have control, such as being overweight or obese. Also, women who have three alcoholic drinks per week have a 15% higher risk of developing breast cancer, and that risk increases 10% for each additional drink.

The standard age to begin mammograms is 45, but it really depends on family history.

"If you have a genetic predisposition or family history of breast cancer, then going younger in your 30s is really important," Haricharan said.

Some experts say to start no later than 10 years before the age of the earliest diagnosis in the family.

Your ethnicity can also affect your outcome: while white women are more likely to develop breast cancer than African American women, African American women are more likely to die from breast cancer at any age.

BREAST CANCER: WHAT YOU DIDN'T KNOW
REPORT #2655

BACKGROUND: An estimated 268,600 women in the United States will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer, and 62,930 women will be diagnosed with in situ breast cancer this year. And, an estimated 2,670 men in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer. The average deaths per year are 42,260 (41,760 women and 500 men) from breast cancer. The average 5-year survival rate for women with invasive breast cancer is 90%. The average 10-year survival rate is 83%. If the cancer is located only in the breast, the 5-year survival rate of women is 99%. Sixty-two percent of cases are diagnosed at this stage. If the cancer has spread to the regional lymph nodes, the 5-year survival rate is 85%. If the cancer has spread to a distant part of the body, the 5-year survival rate is 27%. About 6% of women have metastatic cancer when they are first diagnosed. Even if the cancer is found at a more advanced stage, new treatments help many people with breast cancer maintain a good quality of life. Breast cancer is the second most common cause of death from cancer in women in the United States, after lung cancer. However, since 1989, the number of women who have died of breast cancer has steadily decreased thanks to early detection and treatment improvements. (Source: https://www.cancer.net/cancer-types/breast-cancer/statistics/2015)

DETECTION AND PREVENTION: Finding breast cancer early and getting cancer treatment are the most important strategies to prevent deaths. Breast cancer that's found early, when it's small and has not spread, is easier to treat successfully. Regular screening tests are the most reliable way to find breast cancer early. The American Cancer Society has screening guidelines for women at average risk of breast cancer, and for those at high risk cancer. The goal of screening tests for breast cancer is to find it before it causes symptoms (like a lump that can be felt). Screening refers to tests and exams used to find a disease in people who don't have any symptoms. Early detection means finding and diagnosing a disease earlier than if you'd waited for symptoms to start. Research shows that lifestyle changes can decrease the risk of breast cancer, even in women at high risk. Some ways to lower your risk include limit alcohol, don't smoke, control your weight, be physically active, breast-feed, limit dose and duration of hormone therapy, and avoid exposure to radiation and environmental pollution. (Source: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/breast-cancer/screening-tests-and-early-detection/american-cancersociety-recommendations-for-the-early-detection-of-breast-cancer.html and https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/womens-health/in-depth/breast-cancer-prevention/art-20044676)

NEW TREATMENT ERADICATES TUMORS: A team of researchers at the European Cancer Organization have made an astounding discovery in the treatment of breast cancer. In their study, this new cancer therapy destroyed cancerous tumors in just 11 days without chemotherapy. This was the first time a drug for this disease has shown such a response. According to the American Cancer Society, around 1 in 5 breast cancers are human epidermal growth factor receptor 2-positive, or HER2-positive. The new treatment involved a combination of two drugs, lapatinib and trastuzumab, and showed astounding results. To assess results, samples of the tumor tissue were taken from an initial biopsy and once again during surgery. It was found that there was a drop on Ki67 protein, indicating cell proliferation. Seventeen percent of women treated with the drug combination had minimal residual disease, while in 11% the drugs had eradicated their tumors. These results could revolutionize future treatment of breast cancer and even allow patients to avoid going through chemotherapy post-surgery, thus reducing the adverse side effects and giving them a better quality of life. (Source: https://veritalife.com/breast-cancer-breakthrough-treatment/)