In the recent data released by the American Cancer Society, about one in eight women in the United States will probably develop breast cancer. This 12.4 percent lifetime risk is a result of several factors such as obesity and hormonal factors.
Higher Lifetime Risk For Breast Cancer But Lower Mortality Rates
Data from 1970s showed that women's lifetime risk for developing breast cancer was one in 11. This increase is a result of several factors such as longer life span and higher incidence of breast cancer due to hormonal and reproductive pattern changes, obesity, and increased detection through screening.
In the past four decades, more women underwent mammography screening, which led to early detection of even slow-growing tumors. During this time frame, many of the women drastically changed their reproductive patterns — more and more delay childbearing and have fewer children — both are known risk factors for breast cancer.
While a number of individuals with breast cancer increased, deaths secondary to the said disease declined significantly. Breast cancer data showed (PDF) that from 1990 to 2015, the total decline in mortality rate reached 39 percent. In the last decade, deaths due to breast cancer and its complications consistently dropped by 2 percent annually. Improvement in survival rate resulted from early detection and advancements in therapy.
Cutting The Risk For Breast Cancer
Early detection and technological advancements in the treatment of breast cancer reduced the risk of death for these patients. Experts, however, believe that this is not enough. There exists a greater need to reduce the risk altogether.
How can one eliminate the risk for breast cancer? Some of the preventable risk factors for breast cancer include smoking, heavy alcohol consumption, obesity, and consumption of high-fiber food.
Doctors recommend women to undergo necessary lifestyle changes. By maintaining a healthy body weight, engaging in daily exercise, quitting smoking, and regulating alcohol consumption, the risk of having breast cancer dwindles significantly. Some doctors also advise women to cut down on their intake of hormone replacement therapies.
Medical practitioners also highlight the need for early screening tests to prevent malignancies to progress. The American Cancer Society recommends the following guidelines:
• Optional annual mammogram screening for women aged 40 to 44
• Annual mammogram for women aged 45 to 54
• Mammogram every other year or every year (optional) for women aged 55 and older with good health and life expectancy of more than 10 years
• Breast MRI and mammogram every year staring 30 years old for high-risk women
Professor and chief of epidemiology in Family Medicine and Public Health department at University of California San Diego School of Medicine and lead researcher of the Women Informed to Screen Depending on Measures of Risk (WISDOM) study Dr. Andrea Z. LaCroix said that the guidelines used for screening breast cancer is constantly changing. It is important to identify the particular approach that can effectively screen patients.
"The WISDOM trial's goal is to test annual screening versus a personalized schedule based on a woman's clinical and genetic risk factors for breast cancer," shared LaCroix. "The study should determine which strategy produces the most benefit for women and the least harms."