Little Known Breast Cancer Facts

By Temma Ehrenfeld @temmaehrenfeld
February 08, 2023
Little Known Breast Cancer Facts

Among little known facts about breast cancer: There are now almost 3 million breast cancer survivors in the United States.

You might be surprised to learn about these breast cancer facts — and myths.

One in eight American women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime.


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In about 60 percent of these cases, the cancer is detected before it has spread beyond the breast. Close to 100 percent — actually, 98.6 percent — of these women have not died five years later. But if the cancer has spread beyond the lymph nodes when it is discovered, the five-year survival rate drops to 25.9 percent.

In the United States today, there are more than 2.9 million breast cancer survivors — the largest group of cancer survivors.

Every year, about 42,000 women in the United States die of breast cancer, second only to lung cancer, which will take the lives of an estimated 60,000 American women.

The breast cancer death rate has been falling since 1989, for an overall decline of 43 percent through 2020.

Sometimes breast cancer is found after symptoms appear, such as breast pain, a lump, swollen lymph nodes, or nipple discharge. Many women with breast cancer have no symptoms, however, emphasizing the need for regular screening.

The United States Preventive Services Task Force recommends that women ages 50 to 74 years get a mammogram every two years. Younger women should ask their doctors for advice based on their circumstances. Early menstruation (before age 12) and a family history of breast cancer, for example, increase your risk.

Other risk factors:

  • Having your first child at an older age
  • Never giving birth
  • Menopause after 55
  • Being overweight or obese, particularly around the waistline, also increases your chances of getting breast cancer
  • Having more than one alcoholic drink a day

There are lots of crazy myths about breast cancer. It is NOT caused by:

  • Wearing underwire bras
  • Implants
  • Deodorants or antiperspirants
  • Mammograms
  • Caffeine
  • Plastic food serving items
  • Microwaves
  • Cell phones

You can take steps to reduce your risk of breast cancer.

  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Be physically active.
  • Avoid or limit alcohol.
  • Breastfeed your infant for several months after childbirth.

The number of breast cancer cases is rising in poorer countries as women live longer and adopt more sedentary lifestyles.

Men get breast cancer, too. About 500 men die of breast cancer in the U.S. each year.

Some other things you might not know about women’s health, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • Only 20 percent of adult women meet the guidelines for exercise, both aerobic and muscle-building.
  • Asthma occurs more often in women than men.
  • About one in every five American women has heavy menstrual bleeding, or periods that last more than seven days.
  • One in four women have a disability.
  • About one in five American women ages 15 to 49 who have no children are unable to get pregnant after trying for a year.
  • More pregnant women are using opioids, leading to more babies born with symptoms of withdrawal. Women are more likely to have chronic pain and get a painkiller prescription.


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February 08, 2023

Reviewed By:  

Janet O’Dell, RN