Stay Abreast Of Breast Cancer

Improve your breast-cancer awareness with this fact-filled quiz. For more information, check out Breast Cancer Action (www.bcaction.org) or consult the National Cancer Institute (www.nci.nih.gov) or the American Cancer Society (www.cancer.org).

1. True or False? Breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in women.

2. True or False? Every hour, doctors diagnose 20 cases of breast cancer.

3. True or False? Men do not develop breast cancer.

4. True or False? Breast cancer risk increases with age.

5. True or False? Breast cancer accounts for nearly one out of every three cancer diagnoses in women each year.

6. True or False? Black women are more likely than white women to be diagnosed with breast cancer.

7. True or False? A link exists between the environment and breast cancer risk.

Answers

1. False. Lung cancer leads the pack for women overall. However, among women younger than 55, breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer death.

2. True. A doctor diagnoses a new case of breast cancer every three minutes in the United States.

3. False. Although it's relatively rare, men do account for a fraction of a percentage of breast cancer cases. In 2002, U.S. doctors diagnosed an estimated 1,500 men with breast cancer.

4. True. If all U.S. women lived to be 85 years old, one in eight would develop breast cancer at some time during her life. Less than 1 percent (one in 229) of women under age 39 get breast cancer. The risk goes up to 4 percent (one in 24) in women aged 40 to 59 and 7 percent (one in 14) for women aged 60 to 79.

5. True. Breast cancer made up 31 percent of the total cancer cases in women in 2002.

6. False. Overall, white women receive more breast cancer diagnoses; however, black women are more likely to die from the disease. The National Cancer Institute reports that the breast cancer mortality rate among black women in 27 percent higher than that for white women. The reasons are unclear.

7. True, according to many studies. The effects of radiation exposure can add up over time and do harm. Some pesticides, plastic additives, and other chemicals act like estrogen in the body and are thus thought to contribute to breast cell growth and cancer risk. Of the 85,000 chemicals in commercial use today, 90 percent have never been tested for human health effects, and 43 have induced mammary tumors in lab animals.

—Pamela Emanoil

Sources: Breast Cancer Action; American Cancer Society; National Cancer Institute; Environmental and Molecular Mutagenesis, 2002, in press; Environmental Health Perspectives, 1995, vol. 103.