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Cancer diagnosis at age 22 (community correspondent)

By Jeannie Smith | Chilton County Relay For Life

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and provides an important opportunity for the American Cancer Society and our many partners to reaffirm our unwavering commitment to diminishing the burden of breast cancer.

Our work does not begin and end in October. We work every day to diminish a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer through promotion of healthy lifestyles, to make sure that every woman destined to develop breast cancer has an equal opportunity to find it as early as possible through regular mammography screening and to ensure that every woman facing breast cancer receives the support she and her family need to give her the best chance of living a long, symptom-free life.

SMITH

SMITH

Breast Cancer Awareness Month is an important moment to shine a light on the enormous and intolerable burden that breast cancer continues to exact on so many families, but the American Cancer Society’s work goes on without interruption, every day, in every community.

The progress we make is the result of tireless work of millions of individual fundraisers and volunteers, non-profit organizations, lawmakers, and corporate partners—all of whom share our passion to help save more lives.

We know that finding breast cancer at an early stage can increase the chances of treating it successfully. So we engage in efforts to increase public awareness about the importance of regular mammograms.

We know that having breast cancer is hard, but finding help shouldn’t be. So we’re here around the clock to guide people through every step of a breast cancer experience.

We’ve made great progress as a leader in the breast cancer fight. But we also know there’s much more work to do. Of those 231,840 women who will be diagnosed, about 40,290 of them will die from the disease. That’s 40,290 too many. So today, I challenge you to take your commitment a little further and apply what you know about breast cancer into what you can do about it. If you haven’t done so already, please make a commitment to:

•Support your local Relay For Life event. Form a team today by registering at www.relayforlife.org/chiltonal (and invite your family and friends to join you!)

•Encourage the women in your life who are 40 or older to talk to their health care provider about the breast cancer screening plan that’s best for them.

Cancer survivor: Leah Baker with her husband Todd and children Jackson, Jacie, Jenna and Josie. (Contributed photo)

Cancer survivor: Leah Baker with her husband Todd and children Jackson, Jacie, Jenna and Josie. (Contributed photo)

Do you know the stats?

•Breast cancer is the most common cancer among American women, except for skin cancers.

•Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women, exceeded only by lung cancer.

•The chance that breast cancer will be responsible for a woman’s death is about 1 in 37 (about 3 percent).

•Death rates from breast cancer have been declining since about 1989, with larger decreases in women younger than 50. These decreases are believed to be the result of earlier detection through screening and increased awareness, as well as improved treatment.

•There are more than 2.9 million breast cancer survivors in the U.S. (This includes women still being treated and those who have completed treatment.)

•In 2015, an estimated 231,840 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed among women; about 2,350 new cases in men.

•About 60,290 new cases of breast carcinoma in situ will be diagnosed, the majority (83 percent) of which will be ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS).

•An estimated 40,290 women and 440 men are expected to die of breast cancer in 2015.

•After increasing for more than two decades, female breast cancer incidence rates began decreasing around 2000, then dropped by

about 7 percent from 2002 to 2003, due in great part to the decline in use of hormone therapy after menopause. Since 2004, overall female breast cancer incidence rates have been stable.

•61 percent of breast cancer cases are diagnosed at a localized stage (meaning they are still confined to the breast), for which the 5-year relative survival rate is 99 percent. If the cancer has spread to surrounding tissues or lymph nodes under the arm, the survival rate is 85 percent.

•If the spread is to lymph nodes above the collarbone or to distant organs, the survival rate falls to 25 percent.