Vail Daily column: A plan for the cure
A couple of months ago was National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, an organized campaign for the last 25 years. Recently, I spent time with a friend who may have just beaten this disease. It’s alarming to think of all the people worldwide fighting this disease. Here in Happy Valley, where so many people live a more active and health-conscientious lifestyle than in other places, I find it alarming at how many people are afflicted.
This past weekend, “60 Minutes” aired a segment that addressed very promising research being conducted by a California doctor at UCLA, Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong. It was inspiring to hear him speak and explain the research he is conducting. It was fascinating to hear him explain how it is his opinion that cancer researchers and pharmaceutical makers need to speed up their game. His approach seems progressive, visionary and multifaceted. Go online to the “60 Minutes” website and watch the program!
LET’S WORK TOGETHER
It is a time for collaboration of public, private and professional organizations that can pool their resources and fight this disease. It is estimated that in 2012, 226,873 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be discovered and that 39,510 deaths directly related to breast cancer will occur (Susan G. Komen for the Cure Organization).
“One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime” (National Breast Cancer Foundation). Though many view this disease to only affect women, men also contract breast cancer, though at much lower rates — 2,190 new cases are estimated for 2012, with 410 deaths expected (Susan G. Komen for the Cure).
With treatments such as surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, etc., the same for both women as well as men, it is not surprising that survival rates are also similar.
A brief look back at history shows us that “from the 1940s until the 1980s, the rate of new cases of breast cancer in the U.S. increased by a little over 1 percent a year. In the 1980s, incidence rose dramatically — likely due to increased mammography screening, then leveled off during the 1990s.”
Incidence rates declined in the early 2000s until 2003, where they have remained stable since then (this decline could be related to the decrease in usage of postmenopausal hormones for women). Incidence rates for men have changed little over this same period.
BREAST CANCER FACTS
There are a myriad of statistics that come from every new study related to breast cancer. Here are a few that may be of interest to you:
• “The incidence of breast cancer has increased among both white and black women since 1975 (remaining stable since 2003).”
• In women worldwide, breast cancer is the most common cancer, with an estimated 1.6 million new cases each year.
• Developed countries (countries such as the USA, England, France, etc.) have higher rates of cancer than developing countries on the Africa continent (many factors may play a role in these facts, such as reporting accuracy, lifestyle, reproductive issues, etc.).
• Breast cancer is the most common cancer among African American women, which is lower than in white women, yet, for African American women below the age of 40, the incidence is higher than for white women of the same age group. (Susan G. Komen for the Cure).
RISK INCREASES AS YOU AGE
It is important to note that all women (and men) are at risk for developing breast cancer. The two most common risk factors are being a female and getting older.
“The risk of getting breast cancer increases as you age. Most breast cancers and breast cancers deaths occur in women aged 50 and older. Until more is known about prevention, early detection and treatment offer the best defense against dying from breast cancer.” With that in mind, it is important to know where to turn for information and/or help with breast cancer issues that may come up for you or one of your loved ones.
Below is a list of organizations that can offer assistance in both education about cancer and also in further resources for treatment options if there is an existing cancer issue.
Local resources include:
• Shaw Cancer Center: http://www.shaw cancercenter.com.
• The Calaway • Young Cancer Center at Valley View Hospital: http://www.vvh.org.
National resources include:
• American Cancer Society: http://www.cancer.org.
• American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists: http://www.acog.org.
• The American Society of Clinical Oncology: http://www.asco.org.
• The American Medical Women’s Association: http://www.amwa.org.
• CancerCare: http://www.cancercare.org.
• Men Against Breast Cancer: http://www.menagainstbreastcancer.org.
• The Oncology Nursing Society: http://www.ons.org.
• Prevent Cancer Foundation: http://www.preventcancer.org.
• Susan G. Komen for the Cure, http://www.komen.org.
As always, being proactive is the best means for dealing with any potential crisis situation that arises. Learn as much as you can about breast cancer now and you will be that much further ahead of the game should breast cancer enter your life or that of someone you love.
Judson Haims is the owner of Visiting Angels Home Care in Eagle County. For more information, go to http://www.visitingangels.com/comtns or call 970-328-5526.