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  • Breast Cancer By The Numbers: Raising Awareness About Risk

    Breast Cancer By The Numbers: Raising Awareness About Risk

    In September, Congress declared the last week of the month as National Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer Week. The resolution was sponsored by Representative—and breast cancer survivor—Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D, Fl.) who testified before Congress that “knowledge is power” when it comes to breast and ovarian cancer. “Hopefully, the resolution that we have today will raise awareness so that we can continue to catch more cancer earlier, so that we can have more survivors,” Wasserman Schultz said. Along with increasing the awareness of hereditary cancer, the week also includes National Previvor Day. Previvors are women who understand the risk of developing breast cancer, and choose to take an active role in their own health. As all previvors know, awareness is the first step in prevention. Are you aware of your cancer risk? Check out the stats below, and for more information about being a previvor, check out the new book “Previvors: Facing the Breast Cancer Gene and Making Life-Changing Decisions” (Penguin) in bookstores this Tuesday (Oct. 5)

    Breast Cancer and Gender

    Next to age, sex is the biggest risk factor for breast cancer. According to The American Cancer Society, this year 207,090 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer compared to just 1,970 men. In other words, less than one percent of new cases of breast cancer are found in men. Women: 99% Men: 1%

    Breast Cancer and Age

    One in every eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime, and that risk increases with age. For example, a woman who is presently thirty years old has a 1.86 percent chance of being diagnosed with breast cancer within twenty years. In other words one to two women out of every 100 women in their thirties will get breast cancer by the time they are 50 years old. That risk increases to almost 7 percent for a woman in her sixties. 30: 1.86% 40: 3.75% 50: 5.60% 60: 6.71%

    Breast Cancer and Genes

    Women with a parent or sibling who have breast cancer are twice as likely to get the disease. Those with two first-degree relatives are three times as likely. Certain genetic mutations are also linked to breast cancer risk. In particular, women with mutations in two genes known as BRCA 1 and BRCA 2—that normally act as tumor suppressors—are five times as likely to develop breast cancer, according to The National Cancer Institute. Men can also have mutations in these genes. In most cases, however, women who are diagnosed with breast cancer do not have a family history of the disease, or mutations in BRCA 1 or BRCA 2. No History: 70% Family History: 20% Genetic Mutations: 10% *Sources: