Fast Facts: October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month
October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, an annual, sustained public education campaign that aims to draw attention to the prevalence of breast cancer and its impact on women. According to the American Cancer Society, one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer.
Breast cancer is far more commonly diagnosed in women than men. In 2021, it is predicted there will be over 280,000 new diagnoses of breast cancer in women and over 2,600 cases in men. According to the American Cancer Society, incidence rates have increased by 0.5% per year.
Breast cancer is the second leading cause of death in women, followed only by lung cancer. It is estimated that roughly 43,600 women will die from breast cancer in 2021. Research has shown that death rates from breast cancer in older women have decreased by 1% per year since 2013.
The WHA Information Center analyzed data collected from 2017-2020 for inpatient, emergency room, outpatient and observation encounters related to breast cancer. The data depicts a decrease in cases seen during 2020, which may be due to less screening availability during the COVID-19 pandemic shutdowns. The overall trend, nonetheless, seems to be averaging the same counts as previous years.
Patients aged 61-70 years old logged roughly 9,500 visits for breast cancer. The National Cancer Institute states that the median diagnosis age for breast cancer is 62. Data from the WHA Information Center shows the average age of breast cancer patients in Wisconsin is 61 years old, correlating with the national age range. Ozaukee County had the highest rate of visits for breast cancer per 1,000 people.
Breast Cancer Awareness Month is a great time to raise awareness about the statistics and facts about the cancer. Below are some common myths about breast cancer from the National Breast Cancer Foundation:
MYTH: Finding a lump in your breast means that you have cancer.
FACT: Only a small percentage of breast lumps turn out to be cancer. But if you discover a persistent lump in your breast that is new or notice any changes in breast tissue, it should never be ignored. It is very important that you see a physician for a clinical breast exam.
MYTH: Men do not get breast cancer; it only affects women.
FACT: Each year, it is estimated that more than 2,000 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer and 410 will die. While this percentage is still small, men should also check themselves periodically by doing a breast self-exam and reporting any changes to their physicians.
MYTH: If you have a family history of breast cancer, then you are more likely to develop breast cancer, too.
FACT: While women who have a family history of breast cancer are in a higher risk group, most women who have breast cancer have no family history. Statistically, only about 10% of individuals diagnosed with breast cancer have a family history of this disease.