An article appeared in today's Daily Telegraph highlighting BBC Woman's Hour presenter, Jenni Murray's battle (see previous post) with breast cancer. Here are some of the facts about this disease.
1. Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Britain, with over 44,000 new patients being identified each year. The incidence of the disease in British women is increasing by more than one per cent each year.
2. One per cent of those diagnosed are men.
3. About 80 per cent of breast cancers occur in post-menopausal women aged over 50.
4. Around 80 per cent of women survive breast cancer, primarily because of increased breast awareness, earlier screening and improved treatment. Since 1999 it has fallen from being the most common cause of death from cancer to the third most common behind lung cancer and bowel cancer.
5. Breast cancer claims the lives of more than 12,400 people each year. This represents around 17 per cent of female cancer deaths.
6. Being overweight slightly increases the risk of breast cancer, as does regularly drinking more than one unit of alcohol per day.
7. Having children at under age 30 lowers the risk of breast cancer.
8. Breast-feeding helps protect against the disease, and the longer a woman breast-feeds her children the more she lowers her risk.
9. Starting periods at a younger than average age (under 12) or having a late menopause (after 55) increases the risk of breast cancer.
10. The biggest risk factor is age. The older a woman is, the higher the risk of her suffering the disease. The risk up to age 25 is one in 15,000; up to 40 one in 200; up to 60 one in 23; up to 80 one in 11.
11. Women age 50-69 have a better prognosis than ever, with 72 per cent likely to survive at least 20 years.