Breast cancer mortality rate cut by early detection

To help encourage mammograms every two years among women 50 and over, ICA is marking Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October.

Breast cancer awareness  (photo credit: Thinkstock)
Breast cancer awareness
(photo credit: Thinkstock)
Although the mortality rate from breast cancer has dropped over the last decade from an average of 22.6 to 17.4 per 100,000 people, almost 1,000 Israeli women (and a handful of men) die of it each year.
The diagnosis rate from breast cancer constitutes the highest in the world – 17 percent of all malignant tumors – among Israeli women, according to the Israel Cancer Association. Every year, some 4,000 new cases are diagnosed.
To help encourage mammograms every two years among women 50 and over (and earlier in women at high risk due to a personal or family history), the ICA is marking Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October and a special day on Monday, October 31.
Twenty-five percent of cases are diagnosed in women younger than 50, while 6% are found under the age of 40. The ICA holds assemblies every year for younger women who are at risk and organizes support groups both for them and older women. Although an organization to raise awareness about breast cancer was named “One in Nine,” the current risk of breast cancer during women’s lifetime has reached one in eight.
While the rate of diagnosis with breast cancer is high (96.8 per 100,000) and topped only by Holland, France and Denmark in Europe, the mortality rate here from breast cancer is relatively low and below that in Germany, Finland, Spain, Sweden and Luxembourg.
This is partly due to more willingness to undergo mammography scans and early detection, the ICA says.
Much effort is being aimed at reaching sectors of women who are reluctant to undergo mammograms including haredim and Arab women, where the death rates are higher due to later detection. Early detection can lead to survival rates of around 90%, the ICA adds.
Although breast cancer cannot be prevented completely by healthy lifestyles – unlike lung cancer, which can almost totally be wiped out if tobacco use ends – there are steps one can take to lower the risk.
These include ensuring that one’s body weight is in the normal range and performing regular physical activity. Not drinking excessive amounts (over three portions daily) of alcohol significantly reduces the risk.
Having children at a relatively- young age and breastfeeding them also cuts the risk of breast cancer. Women who have used contraceptive pills for 10 years or more have a 15% to 20% higher risk of contracting breast cancer than women who did not.
The One in Nine organization is distributing via Facebook a special application in which women can virtually paint their profiles with pink to symbolize the fight against breast cancer.
GE Healthcare has launched a world campaign encompassing 25 countries, including Israel, for increasing awareness of the disease.
Thousands of its workers, dressed in pink, will create a human chain to mark the month.