In the Pursuit of Health
October Blog by Avalon Medical Educators
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of happiness…”
While we all share in these unalienable rights, we also have to be careful not to step on other people’s right to these very same rights.
Todd was 38 when his life took a sudden and very unexpected twist. It was at 38 when he found what he referred to as “an annoying lump” in his right chest wall; it annoyed him enough that he eventually made an appointment to share this with his practitioner. After many tests and weeks of waiting, Todd received the life-changing news…it was breast cancer.
The next months would be full of appointments to the oncologist, various other doctors, labs, and a host of others tests and procedures.
The thing that he didn’t expect was the reactions of his friends and family. Over and over again he heard people joke with him about having a “woman’s cancer” and “wow Todd, we knew you were feminine, but who knew you’d go this far”.
Todd didn’t laugh at the joking, but instead became insecure about sharing his diagnosis with people around him and became more and more withdrawn as time marched by. And time did in fact march by, the following Winter, Todd had got to the point in his treatment where none of the traditional therapies were working and depression began to set in.
Although a man’s lifetime risk of breast cancer is only about 1 in 883, who knows who that one will be.
We are all aware of the extremely high risks of breast cancer in woman, about one in eight U.S. (12%) will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of their lifetime and that in 2019, an estimated 268,600 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed, that along with 62,930 new cases of non-invasive (in situ) breast cancers. Although the incidence of breast cancer has begun to decrease since 2000 (more than 7%) and mortality rates have also dropped from 1989, there is still so much work to do as this remains one of the largest killers among woman in the United States.
Men, woman….err, maybe not children…remind each other to do your self exams, get your appointments made to get the mammograms done. Let’s encourage each other to stay healthy!
U.S. Breast Cancer Statistics. (2019, February 13). Retrieved from https://www.breastcancer.org/symptoms/understand_bc/statistics.
About 1 in 8 U.S. women (about 12%) will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime.
In 2019, an estimated 268,600 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in women in the U.S., along with 62,930 new cases of non-invasive (in situ) breast cancer.
About 2,670 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in men in 2019. A man’s lifetime risk of breast cancer is about 1 in 883.
Breast cancer incidence rates in the U.S. began decreasing in the year 2000, after increasing for the previous two decades. They dropped by 7% from 2002 to 2003 alone. One theory is that this decrease was partially due to the reduced use of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) by women after the results of a large study called the Women’s Health Initiative were published in 2002. These results suggested a connection between HRT and increased breast cancer risk.
About 41,760 women in the U.S. are expected to die in 2019 from breast cancer, though death rates have been decreasing since 1989. Women under 50 have experienced larger decreases. These decreases are thought to be the result of treatment advances, earlier detection through screening, and increased awareness.
For women in the U.S., breast cancer death rates are higher than those for any other cancer, besides lung cancer.
Besides skin cancer, breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among American women. In 2019, it's estimated that about 30% of newly diagnosed cancers in women will be breast cancers.
In women under 45, breast cancer is more common in African-American women than white women. Overall, African-American women are more likely to die of breast cancer. For Asian, Hispanic, and Native-American women, the risk of developing and dying from breast cancer is lower.
As of January 2019, there are more than 3.1 million women with a history of breast cancer in the U.S. This includes women currently being treated and women who have finished treatment.
A woman’s risk of breast cancer nearly doubles if she has a first-degree relative (mother, sister, daughter) who has been diagnosed with breast cancer. Less than 15% of women who get breast cancer have a family member diagnosed with it.
About 5-10% of breast cancers can be linked to gene mutations inherited from one’s mother or father. Mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes are the most common. On average, women with a BRCA1 mutation have up to a 72% lifetime risk of developing breast cancer. For women with a BRCA2 mutation, the risk is 69%. Breast cancer that is positive for the BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations tends to develop more often in younger women. An increased ovarian cancer risk is also associated with these genetic mutations. In men, BRCA2 mutations are associated with a lifetime breast cancer risk of about 6.8%; BRCA1 mutations are a less frequent cause of breast cancer in men.
About 85% of breast cancers occur in women who have no family history of breast cancer. These occur due to genetic mutations that happen as a result of the aging process and life in general, rather than inherited mutations.
The most significant risk factors for breast cancer are gender (being a woman) and age (growing older).