Martha Osborne: "The Power of Pink"

Join Martha Osborne for an informative presentation on breast health, early detection, diagnosis, treatment, and survival.

Breast cancer is a leading cause of cancer death among women, second only to lung cancer. While the death rates from breast cancer are falling, the American Cancer Society estimates that more than 190,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in the year 2009. Of that number, the death toll is expected to reach at least 40,000. Although breast cancer is the most common type of cancer affecting women in the U.S., increased education and awareness can help save lives. That is why it’s important to know the facts about the disease.

Recognize that simply being a woman and getting older puts you at risk for developing breast cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, one in every eight women runs the risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer at some time during her life. Although having a family member who had breast cancer may increase your own risk, the majority of women who are diagnosed with breast cancer have no family history of the disease.

Be aware that many women who get the disease have no other known risk factors other than gender and age. Most women diagnosed with breast cancer are older than age 50; however, research suggests that high estrogen levels over time may increase a woman’s risk. For this reason, women who began menstruating early before age 12 or go through menopause later after age 55 may be more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer when they get older.

Understand that even though men account for less than 1 percent of breast cancers, they, too, are at risk of developing the disease. Like women, men at any age can get breast cancer, but men are usually in their 60s or 70s when they are diagnosed.

Appreciate the importance of having regular medical checkups as well as performing monthly breast self-exams. Both of these preventive measures can help to detect any changes early. While eight out of 10 breast lumps are not cancerous, the chances of surviving breast cancer are greater if the disease is discovered in the early stages. Breast cancer not found until it is in the later stages is more difficult to treat and may have spread to other tissues in the body. Routine screening can lead to both an early diagnosis and increased chance of survival.