On September 25, 2007, HealthDay discussed the findings of a report published by the American Cancer Society, which announced that breast cancer death rates continue to decline more than two percent annually. This is good news for many people as well as for the American Healthcare System. These findings prove that existing treatments and methods used to prevent or cure breast cancer have been successful for breast cancer patients. According to the American Cancer Society, the trend of declining breast cancer death rates “can be traced to early detection and better treatments.” With the improvement of treatment strategies and medical diagnostic tools used for early detection, it is inevitable that breast cancer rates decrease over the years. However, this was not nearly as evident for black women in comparison to white and Hispanic women, as mentioned in the report.
The claim made in Breast Cancer Facts & Figures 2007-2008 (image on the right) about the decline in breast cancer death rates being greater among white and Hispanic women than black women is considered troubling news. The explanation to such information is due to the lack of access to health care, as stated by Dr. Eric P. Winer, the director of the breast oncology center at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. In order to combat this problem, it is important that all Americans are granted the access to health care. Once this has been completed, the gap in breast cancer rates between white and black women will decrease. Additionally, patients will have the ability to detect the disease at an earlier stage where it will be more preventable and curable. This will ultimately “save lives and reduce suffering” as affirmed by Dr. Winer. Since breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed cancer among women, access to health care will also reduce the statistical fact that more than one in four malignancies are detected in women. Although many associate this disease with women, there have been reported breast cancer cases with men.
Even with the small number of men diagnosed with breast cancer, the report listed a finding that discussed the statistical significance of male breast cancer. The incidence in males is quite rare, however, this rate increased by one percent a year between 1975 and 2004. The report further states that the cause to the increase in male breast cancer is unknown. Upon conducting research about this issue, three risk factors associated with male breast cancer may be considered. First, the diagnosis of cancer in men is different from women since the detection of cancer in men is found at a later stage than it is for women. The cancer would have metastasized throughout the body as a result of late detection. Second, those who are diagnosed with prostate cancer are in need of estrogen therapy. Such therapy requires an added amount of estrogen to the body which means that there is a higher risk to acquire breast cancer. Obesity is the third risk factor linked with this disease since the testosterone level decreases and is replaced with high levels of estrogen. The regulation of diet and exercise is needed in both men and women to reduce the risk for getting breast cancer.
In order to continue decreasing breast cancer death rates, it is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Take preventative measures such as mammography screening (image on the left), especially since there has been a reported decrease in the usage of mammography screening. This causes fewer cancers to be identified. Also, begin screening early on if health records indicate a family history of breast cancer. Consider drinking no more than one alcoholic beverage a day and maintain weight by exercising. Decrease the use of hormone replacement therapy if possible since it is linked to breast cancer and many other health risks. Most importantly, grant all Americans the access to universal health coverage to decrease the health disparities found throughout the United States.