“Breast cancer”………women hear these words and they evoke anxiety and fear. I am 44 years old now, and had my fourth mammogram about a month ago as I’ve started getting yearly mammograms since forty years old. And despite the fact I’m an OB/GYN medical doctor, like every other woman, I get a little nervous when I go for my yearly mammogram……what if I get that call from my radiologist colleague that I need more imaging studies done because something looks suspicious? What if I have breast cancer?
Now that I’ve been in private practice over a decade, I’ve diagnosed quite a number of women with breast cancer. And I’ve also had several friends and colleagues with breast cancer. And the one thing I can tell you is that my patients, colleagues, and friends are doing great, working, raising children, leading full, productive lives. Do you need surgery with possible chemotherapy or radiation? Yes you do. But after a tough phase of going through their treatments, women with breast cancer, especially when the breast cancer is caught and treated early, do terrific. This is what motivates me to get my yearly screening mammograms.
So here are some facts about breast cancer to keep in mind:
- According to the American Cancer Society’s estimates for breast cancer in the United States for 2011, there will be about 230,480 new cases and about 39,520 deaths from breast cancer.
- Breast cancer is the second most common cancer among women in the United States, second to skin cancer.
- Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States after lung cancer.
- Chances of a woman being diagnosed with invasive breast cancer is about 1 in 8.
- The chance of dying from breast cancer is about 1 in 35.
- Deaths due to breast cancer has decreased by about one-third in the past quarter century. This is probably due to earlier detection and better treatment.