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Breast Cancer by the numbers: a look at the disease's statistics

Breast Cancer by the numbers: a look at the disease's statistics

By Dallin Kimble, Contributor | Posted - Oct. 19, 2011 at 11:21 a.m.

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Breast cancer awareness ribbons have found their way to NFL jerseys, yogurt lids, Congressional lapels and car bumper stickers to raise awareness for women's second-highest life-threatening cancer.

Pink can be seen at all times of the year, but more so during October, which is breast cancer awareness month. Here are a few numbers to show why breast cancer awareness has gained momentum.

The American Cancer Society estimates 230,480 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011, according to its website at Of women with breast cancer, the society estimates that 39,520 will die this year. Only lung cancer is a more deadly cancer for women.

Breast Cancer Numbers
  • Estimated number of women to be diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011 -- 230,480
  • Estimated number of women who will die of breast cancer in 2011 -- 39,520
  • Estimated breast cancer survival rate for 2011 -- 83%

In addition to invasive cancers, the society reports approximately 57,650 women will be diagnosed with in situ breast cancer, an early stage of the more common diagnosis.

These numbers pile on to the National Cancer Institute's estimate of nearly 3 million cancer survivors in the United States — there were 2.6 million in 2008 — comprising about 2 percent of all women in America, according to the site.

The organization also found that 90 percent of white women and 77 percent of black women were still living five years after getting the disease. Recent years have seen mortality rates drop by 2.4 percent for all women, including 3.2 percent for women under 50. Curiously, mortality among white women has dropped by 2.4 percent each year, while mortality among black women has declined by 1.4 percent annually during the same period.

The good news of improving mortality rates is sobered some by increase risks of being diagnosed with breast cancer. The National Cancer Institute estimates a woman in the United States has a 1 in 8 chance of developing breast cancer in her lifetime, up from 1 in 11 in 1975. All women are at risk for developing breast cancer, with only 5-10 percent of those with breast cancer inheriting a mutation in the known breast cancer genes.

Older women are at the greatest risk of developing breast cancer, according to National Cancer Institute data, with 87.8 percent of diagnosis coming in women older than 45. The median age of a woman with breast cancer in the data is 61. The American Cancer Society has found other factors that increase a woman’s risk of breast cancer include long menstrual history, null parity (having no children), being over 30 for first full-term pregnancy, daily alcohol consumption, use of combined postmenopausal hormone replacement therapy, postmenopausal obesity and breast density. According to the American Cancer Society, exercise and breastfeeding decrease a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer.

Pink ribbon attire, stickers and accessories can be purchased at most major retailers during the month of October. Donations to breast cancer awareness and research can be made online at the National Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc. website,

Dallin Kimble, Contributor


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