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Breast Cancer

More than 2 million U.S. women have been treated for breast cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. Breast cancer is the most common cancer among American women, with the exception of nonmelanoma skin cancers. The most common cancer among women older than 50 years, breast cancer is also the number two cause of cancer deaths for American women. Fortunately, breast cancer death rates have been dropping thanks in part to increased awareness and better detection. If you are a breast cancer survivor, please contact us to find a qualified surgeon who can help with the physical scars remaining from breast cancer.

Early Detection

Today, films and imaging are much improved over years prior, which have helped detect breast cancer earlier. Efforts to increase breast cancer screenings have improved over the years, with a message of early detection to improve the odds of survival. In the late 1970s, the first national guidelines on mammography were issued in hopes of reducing the high mortality rate among breast cancer patients.

Breast Cancer Education

Educational efforts have been successful, but in 2005 alone, more than 211,000 women will still be diagnosed with breast cancer and 43,300 will die, according to the National Breast Cancer Foundation. While a mammogram is among the best early detection methods, only about 64 percent of women over 40 years of age get screened when they should. The American Cancer society recommends annual breast exams by a doctor for all women in their 20s and 30s and annual screening mammograms for women aged 40 and older.

Tumor Size

According to new research released in August 2005, breast cancer tumors found today are smaller than those found in the past, which may be one of the reasons more U.S. women are surviving breast cancer. The researchers at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center concluded that smaller tumor size accounted for 61 percent of the improvement in survival when cancer had not spread from the breast, and 28 percent when it had spread a little.

The study was included in the journal Cancer, which checked a U.S. cancer registry for data on the size of newly found breast cancers from 1975-1999. Based on the data, smaller tumors accounted for more breast cancer cases as time went by among all stages of breast cancer. Back in 1975, about 31 out of 100,000 women died of breast cancer, but by 2001, that number had dropped to about 26 out of 100,000 women, according to figures.

The study was not designed to answer why smaller breast tumors are being discovered, but it implied a lot about the importance of early detection. The largest study of its kind, author Elena Elkin believed it helped deliver the message that screening and treatment have been beneficial and allowed major strides in breast cancer prognosis to be made in recent decades. In the past, breast cancer was often associated to a fatal outcome, and while it still claims too many lives today, studies indicate death rates are dropping despite the number of cases diagnosed continuing to rise.

Breast Cancer Treatment

Breast cancer treatments have also changed, introducing new drugs that have prevented the return of estrogen sensitive breast cancer, in addition to surgical strategies that have been able to preserve the breast whenever possible. Though breast cancer prevention has not become a reality, researchers are closing in on more effective screening methods, as well as research identifying genes linked to the development and progression of breast cancer. Until more is known about breast cancer the message is clear "“ a person's best chance of surviving the disease is to identify it at its earliest stage using mammography and breast self-examination.

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