This year in the United States an estimated
182,000 women will learn they have breast cancer. Two-thirds of the
cases of breast cancer occur in older women, but it affects younger
women too (and about 900 men a year).
More women are getting breast cancer, but no one yet knows all
the reasons why. Some of the increase can be traced to better ways
of recognizing cancer and greater efforts to detect cancers in an
early stage. Some of it may be the result of changes in the way we
live-postponing motherhood, taking replacement hormones and oral
contraceptives, eating high-fat foods, or drinking more
The encouraging news is that, more and more, breast cancer is
being detected early, while the tumor is limited to the breast and
very small. Currently, two-thirds of newly diagnosed breast cancers
show no signs that the cancer has spread beyond the breast, and a
quarter of the cancers are smaller than one-third of an inch.
With prompt and appropriate treatment, the outlook for women
with breast cancer is good. Moreover, when a cancer is detected
while it is still small, a woman may have the option of choosing a
treatment that preserves her breast.