It is estimated that about 1 in 8 American women (13%) will develop breast cancer over the course of their lifespan. In 2022, close to 290,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer and 51,000 cases of non-invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women in the United States. Unfortunately, about 43,000 women in the United States will die from breast cancer this year.
These statistics very clearly highlight the importance of breast cancer awareness. The good news is that breast cancer is very treatable if spotted early. Treatment becomes more complicated once cancer begins to spread to areas outside of the breast.
In this blog post, we will highlight the importance of breast cancer awareness and some of the symptoms you should be aware of. Let’s get started.
Why Is Breast Cancer Awareness So Important?
Breast cancer awareness, simply put, saves lives. As we have noted, the earlier the cancer is spotted, the greater the chance that it is treatable.
Survival rates are often used to give people an idea of the percentage of people with different types and stages of cancer who are alive after a certain amount of time (usually 5 years) after diagnosis. The 5-year relative survival rate for the different stages of breast cancer are:
- Localized (no sign that cancer has spread outside the breast): 99%
- Regional (cancer has spread to nearby structures or lymph nodes): 86%
- Distant (cancer has spread to distant parts of the body): 29%
A report published in 2019 found that 76.4% of women between the ages of 50 and 74 had a mammogram within the past 2 years. Regular mammograms reduce a woman’s risk of dying from breast cancer, helping to spot cancer early.
The breast cancer survival rate in the United States is one of the highest in the world.
What Are the Symptoms of Breast Cancer?
During the early stages of breast cancer, a tumor may be too small to be felt and there may not be any symptoms. That said, an abnormality is visible on a mammogram.
Some of the breast cancer symptoms to be aware of include:
- Breast lump or tissue thickening
- Breast pain
- Changes to the appearance of the skin on the breasts
- Flaking, peeling, or scaling of the skin on the breast or nipple
- Inverted nipple
One or more of these symptoms does not necessarily point to breast cancer. For example, breast pain or a lump may be caused by a benign cyst. That said, further examination and testing should be carried out.
The Importance of Breast Cancer Awareness
The bottom line is that breast cancer awareness saves lives. The more women who are aware of the symptoms of breast cancer and regularly have mammogram tests, the better. For women who are 40 or older, it is recommended that they have a mammogram test annually.