Role of environmental factors?


Question from Karen: Why does it seem that all kinds of women are getting breast cancer? Are environmental factors being weighted more heavily?
Answers - Lillie Shockney, R.N., B.S., M.A.S. There really have been all kinds of women getting breast cancer for a long time. But it has only been in the last 20 years that breast cancer has come out of the closet, so we are talking about it more, reading about it more, and sharing information with one another. Also, more women are getting routine screening than ever before, which is good news. But in doing that routine screening with a larger denominator of women getting mammograms, it would make sense that a larger number of women are being diagnosed that would match the numerator.

There are a number of studies that are being completed to see if there are links to specific geographic areas of the country to see if incidence is higher than others. There are also studies on exposure to carcinogens in the environment and what influence they have on breast cancer and other types of cancer, such as prostate cancer. An article I recently read, published by Dr. Charles Cox from the H. Lee Moffit Cancer Center, showed that though the incidence of breast cancer for invasive disease reportings has remained fairly steady over the last several years, he predicts a sudden increase by the end of 2010. We are seeing an increase this year compared to last year, with numbers bumping up approximately 10,000 for the United States. His published study predicts as many as 400,000 cases of invasive breast cancer by the end of this decade. That is because of baby boomers, the largest population in the world, coming into mid life. So there will be more women with more breasts falling into the right age group for most commonly being diagnosed.

We will continue to promote screening and hopefully have even better technology for diagnosing the disease toward the end of this decade. It will be hard to go through a day in any of our lives without hearing something about breast cancer, even if we are not the ones who mention it at all.

On Wednesday, June 20, 2001, our Ask-the-Expert Online Conference was called Tackling Fear. Lillie Shockney, R.N., B.S., M.A.S.,Marisa Weiss, M.D. and moderator Gwen Darien, Editor-in-Chief, MAMM Magazine, answered your questions about how to manage breast cancer fears.

The materials presented in these conferences do not necessarily reflect the views of Breastcancer.org. A qualified healthcare professional should be consulted before using any therapeutic product or regimen discussed. All readers should verify all information and data before employing any therapies described here.

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