BREAST CANCER FACTS:
2,149 New cases of breast cancer in men will be reported this year. That’s a rate of 1.3 new cases per 100,000 men, compared with 123.4 new cases per 100,000 women.
39% How much higher the breast cancer mortality rate is among African-American women than among Caucasian women. Factors include barriers to health-care access and a later stage of breast cancer at diagnosis.
39,970 women will die from breast cancer this year in the United States, according to an estimate from the American Cancer Society.
90%-95% of women diagnosed with breast cancer don’t have a family history of the disease or cancer in general.
(Sources: Susan G. Komen For the Cure, Central Indiana; www.indystar.com )
4,350 Indiana women were newly diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010, according to an estimate by the American Cancer Society. Source: American Cancer Society, Surveillance and Health Policy Research
*** One out of every 8 women will get breast cancer. A woman dies of breast cancer every 13 minutes. And breast cancer is the leading cause of death for women ages 15 to 54.

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SOME COMMON CLAIMS ABOUT BREAST CANCER

(Addressed by Dr. Otis Brawley, the American Cancer Society’s chief medical officer)

Claim: All lumps in the breast are cancerous.

Answer: “No, most lumps are not cancerous, especially in younger women, but every lump should be evaluated,” Brawley said.

Claim: Breast cancer is an automatic death sentence.

Answer: Breast cancer death rates have steadily declined in women since 1990, according to the society’s “Cancer Facts & Figures 2011.”

“We have about 220,000 to 240,000 women who are diagnosed with breast cancer in the average year, and there are about 40,000 who die in the average year,” Brawley said. “A woman’s risk of dying from breast cancer today is 70 percent of what that woman’s risk would have been at the same age 20 years ago.”

Claim: Leading a healthy lifestyle can prevent breast cancer.

Answer: “Healthy lifestyle can reduce the risk of breast cancer,” Brawley said. But it’s not a 100 percent guarantee that you won’t get it.

Take the 55-year-old woman who gets breast cancer and says, “I did everything they told me to do. I got a mammogram every year to try to detect it early, but now I’m diagnosed with Stage 4 disease. I exercised. I ate right. I didn’t smoke. Why did this happen to me?’ ” Brawley said. “The answer is all of those things reduce risk of getting cancer but do not reduce risk to zero.”

On a similar note, “obesity increases risk of breast cancer,” but “every obese woman is not going to get breast cancer,” he said.

Claim: Thermography is better than mammography for breast-cancer screening.

Answer: “No, it is not,” Brawley said. “We do need a better test (than mammography). I wish thermography were that better test, but I don’t have clinical studies to tell me that thermography is that better test right now.”

Thermography is a way to measure and map the heat on the surface of the breast to detect changes that could possibly indicate a tumor, according to the cancer society. The society doesn’t endorse its use for screening.

Also, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a warning in June that thermography is not a substitute for mammography. The statement noted “the FDA is unaware of any valid scientific evidence showing that thermography, when used alone, is effective in screening for breast cancer.”

Claim: There’s no need to get a mammogram at age 40.

Answer: There is some debate here. But the American Cancer Society recommends an annual mammogram, starting at age 40.

“The number of lives that mammography saves among women in their 40s is a small number, but it saves lives,” Brawley said.

In late 2009, another group — the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force — sparked controversy by recommending that women start screening at age 50. The expert panel, which suggests that mammograms be done every two years, said the benefit of screening in the 40 to 49 age group is small and cited other drawbacks, such as common false alarms. But the task force also stated that the decision to start screening before age 50 should be an individual one.

Brawley acknowledged there are problems with the test, including the fact that it “will miss a lot of breast cancer, but it still saves lives,” he said, “therefore, we recommend it.”

Claim: You must do formal breast self-exams.

Answer: Actually, the American Cancer Society’s official screening guidelines refer to breast self-exams as just “an option” for women who’ve reached their 20s, and the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommended against teaching the exams. Brawley suggests this approach: “What a woman should do is be aware of her breasts and think of it as a brief physical exam every day when one is in the shower as opposed to that monthly breast self-exam that took a half hour to do. If one finds an abnormality, one should seek medical attention for that abnormality.”

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KOMEN TISSUE BANK – INDIANAPOLIS:
The goals of the Bank are to acquire biomolecule and tissue specimens from the entire continuum of breast development: puberty to menopause and to make these specimens or the digital data derived from them available and accessible to researchers across the globe.

By collecting samples from women with and without breast cancer, researchers will be able to determine the differences between these populations, which could lead to a better understanding of the disease. Samples taken from women without the disease are especially helpful because there are few collections of so-called “normal” specimens. The Susan G. Komen for the Cure Tissue Bank at the IU Simon Cancer Center will ultimately give researchers valuable and unprecedented research data.

What to Expect During the Donation Process
During the donation process, a tissue sample is taken from one breast with a needle and local anesthesia. The amount of tissue taken is about one gram (or the size of two peas).

To participate, women must:

  • be age 18 or older
  • have the ability to understand and the willingness to sign an informed consent
  • be willing to give one hour of their time to complete a questionnaire and a breast biopsy
  • not be allergic to local anesthetics (numbing medicine)
  • not be receiving a therapeutic blood thinner (this does not include aspirin)
  • not have breast implants or have had a breast reduction

Register online or contact Kathi Ridley at (317) 274-2366 or keridley@iupui.edu. Donors must have a confirmed appointment time.

If you’d like more specific information you can go to the National Cancer Institute website or the American Cancer Society website.

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