8 Little Known Breast Cancer Facts

By Temma Ehrenfeld @temmaehrenfeld
October 12, 2015

Among the important facts: 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.

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.

In 2015, an estimated 40,290 women in the United States will die of breast cancer, second only to lung cancer, which will take the lives of an estimated 71,660 American women.

The breast-cancer death rate decreased by 34 percent from 1990 to 2010, most likely because of earlier detection and more effective care.  

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.

Having your first child at an older age; never giving birth; menopause after 55; and being overweight or obese, particularly around the waistline, also up your chances of getting breast cancer.  So does downing 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, or cell phones.

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

Men get it, too: in 2015, there will be an estimated 2,350 new U.S. cases, and 440 men will die.

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

  • 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.
  • More than half of women older than 65 are living with a disability, often arthritis or rheumatism.
  • About 6 percent of married American women ages 15 to 44 are unable to get pregnant after trying for a year.
  • About 19 women die every day in the United States as a result of drug overdoses involving prescription opioids. Women are more likely to have chronic pain and get a painkiller prescription.


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February 27, 2020

Reviewed By:  

Janet O’Dell, RN