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The Facts About Breast Cancer

Aug 29, 2007
The causes of breast cancer are not completely understood, although it is clear that a woman's age, gender and lifetime exposure to estrogen and her age at the time of her first childbirth can play an important role. Because no one knows exactly what causes breast cancer, there is absolutely no way to prevent it. However, there are steps that every woman can take that may make developing this cancer less likely.

Did you know:
- The older a woman is, the more likely she is to get Breast Cancer?

- White women are more likely to get it than women of any other racial or ethnic group? They also have a better chance of survival, primarily because their cancer is usually detected earlier.

- African American women are more likely to die from this cancer than white women.

- Men can get breast cancer too, although it is rare. Less than one of every 100 cases in the U.S. occurs in men.

- In 2006, it is estimated that men will account for 1,720 cases of breast cancer.1

All women are at risk. Known risk factors like having a family history of breast cancer, starting menopause after age 55 or never having children account for only a small number of new cancer cases every year.

That means that most women who get breast cancer have no known risk factors except being a woman and getting older.

Typical questions you might have about breast cancer include:
I have a family history of breast cancer. Does that mean I'll develop it, too? Just because other family members have had it doesn't mean that their disease was inherited. Only about 5 to 10 percent of all breast cancers occur because of inherited mutations.2

If I am diagnosed with breast cancer, what are my chances for survival? The 5-year survival rate for all women diagnosed is 90 percent.2 This means that 90 out of every 100 women with breast cancer will survive without a recurrence for at least five years.

Most will live a full life and never have a recurrence. Your chances of surviving are better if the cancer is detected early, before it spreads to other parts of your body. In fact, when breast cancer is confined to the breast, the 5-year survival rate is 98 percent.2

The best way to find it, especially in its earliest stages, is to routinely check your breasts for signs and symptoms of the disease.

There are three basic methods:

Mammograms. These are X-ray pictures of the breast. They can find breast cancer in its earliest stages, even before a lump can be felt. All women 40 and older should have a mammogram every year. If you are younger than 40 with either a family history, or other concerns talk with your health care provider about when to start getting mammograms and how often to have them.

Clinical breast exam. This is performed by a health care provider who carefully checks your breasts and underarm areas for any lumps or changes that may be present. Many women have a clinical breast exam performed when they get their Pap test. Women should have a clinical breast exam at least every 3 years between the ages of 20 and 39 and every year starting at 40.

Breast self-exam (BSE). This involves two main steps: looking at and feeling your breasts for any change from normal. If you notice any change in the normal look or feel of your breasts, see your health care provider. All women should perform monthly BSE by age 20. BSE should be done once a month, a few days after your period ends. If you no longer have periods, do BSE on the same day each month. At your next appointment, ask your health care provider to show you the steps for BSE.

Simply being a woman is the most important risk factor for breast cancer. But remember, there is no one cause. If you are concerned about your breast cancer risk, discuss your options with your doctor.

Known, probable risk factors:
- Being a woman
- Getting older
- Having a mutation in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 breast cancer genes
- Having a previous biopsy showing hyperplasia or carcinoma in situ
- Having a family history of breast cancer or ovarian cancer
- Having high breast density on a mammogram
- Having a personal history of breast or ovarian cancer
- Starting menopause after age 55
- Never having children
- Having your first child after age 30
- Being overweight after menopause or gaining weight as an adult
- Having more than one drink of alcohol per day
- Currently or recently using combined estrogen and progestin hormone replacement therapy (HRT)
- Having your first period before age 12

PANDORA is pleased to announce its continued support of Susan G. Komen For The Cure. For 2007, a guaranteed minimum contribution of $25,000 and a portion of the sales from the pink ribbon charm will go to the organization.

For each pink ribbon charm sold, PANDORA will donate a percentage of the proceeds to Susan G. Komen For The Cure to help eradicate breast cancer through research, education, screening, and treatment.
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