Cancer in Women

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					Cancer in Women

Cancer is the second leading disease of American women and it kills more at 2nd

 Since 1987, lung cancer has been the top cancer killer among American women, with an
estimated 65,700 deaths in 2002. Over the past 10 years, the mortality rate from lung
cancer has declined in men but has continued to rise in women. These alarming trends
are under recognized by women and are due almost exclusively to increased rates of
cigarette smoking in women.

It was estimated there will be 79,200 new cases of lung cancer in women in 2002,
accounting for 12% of cancer diagnoses. Since 1987, more women have died each year of
lung cancer than breast cancer, which, for over 40 years, was the major cause of cancer
death in women.

Breast cancer is the second leading cancer killer (after lung cancer) among women.
However, although lung cancer kills more women each year than breast cancer does,
there are more new cases of breast cancer every year than lung cancer. The estimated
lifetime probability of getting breast cancer for women is now 1 in 8, compared to the
lifetime risk of getting lung cancer of 1 in 17.

The incidence of breast cancer has increased steadily over the last 50 years, rising 25.3
percent between 1973 and 1992. An estimated 203,500 new invasive cases of breast
cancer are expected to occur among women in the United States during 2002. It is
estimated that there will be 39,600 deaths of women attributed to breast cancer in

Women who develop breast cancer when they are younger than age 45 have a 5-year
relative survival rate of 79%. This rate increases to 84% for women aged 45-64 and 87%
for women ages 65 and over. The 5-year survival rate for Hispanic women is lower than
the rate for Caucasian women in the same age categories.
The incidence of breast cancer rose steadily from 1940 to 1990, and then stabilized at
approximately 110 cases per 100,000 women. With the increased use of mammography
screening, breast cancers have increasingly been detected earlier in their development,
when they are more treatable. This earlier detection, coupled with improved treatment
has led to a decline in breast cancer death rates. Between 1990 and 1994, breast cancer
mortality decreased by 5.6 percent. This decline was more pronounced among white
women (-6.1%) than among African American women (-1%).

The incidence and death rates from breast cancer increase with age. About 80 percent of
breast cancers occur in women age 50 or older. Seventy-seven percent of new cases and
84% of breast cancer deaths reported between 1994-1998 occurred in women ages 50
and older. For all races combined, for the period 1994-1998, women ages 20-24 had an
age-specific incidence rate of only 1.5 cases per 100,000 population; women ages 75-79
had the highest incidence rate, 489.7 cases per 100,000.

After age 40, white women are more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer than black
women. With the exception of black women between the ages of 20-24, black women
under age 40 have a slightly higher incidence than white women. Black women are more
likely to die from breast cancer than are white women. Incidence and death rates from
breast cancer are generally lower among women of other racial and ethnic groups than
in white and black women.

The percentage of women age 40 and over who report that they have not had a
mammogram in the past two years has been declining over the past decade. Data from
the Centers for Disease Control's nationwide Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System
for 2000 show that about 29 percent of women aged 40-49, about 19 percent of women
aged 50-64, and about 23 percent of women aged 65 and over said they had not had a
mammogram within the previous two years.

Colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer deaths in American women. It is
estimated there will be 57,000 new cases of colon cancer and 18,400 new cases of rectal
cancer in women in 2002. Although many cases are preventable with regular screening,
regular exercise, and a diet low in fat and high in fruits, vegetables, and whole-grain
foods, colorectal cancer is expected to claim the lives of 28,800 women in 2002.

Cervical cancer: The estimated lifetime probability of getting cervical cancer for women
is now 1 in 117. All women 18 and over should have an annual Pap test and pelvic exam.
With the advent of the Pap smear, the early detection and prevention of cervical cancer
has improved dramatically. Both the incidence and death rates from this disease have
declined by 40 percent since the early 1970s. It is estimated that 13,000 cases of
invasive cervical cancer will be diagnosed in the year 2002.
Endometrial (uterine lining) cancer: It is estimated that in 2002, 39,300 cases of cancer
of the uterine corpus (body of the uterus), usually of the endometrium or lining of the
uterus, will be diagnosed and an estimated 6,600 deaths will occur. Incidence rates for
endometrial cancer are higher among white women (22.9 per 100,000) than among
black women (15.7 per 100,000).

Ovarian cancer: This is the most deadly of all the cancers of the female reproductive
system. Symptoms often appear only in the very advanced stages of the disease. Risk for
ovarian cancer rises with age and peaks in the late 70s. The number of new cases of
ovarian cancer (incidence) has been gradually dropping each year for the past 10 years.
It is estimated that in 2002 there will be 23,300 new cases in the United States and an
estimated 13,900 deaths.

Skin Cancer: There are more than a million cases a year of highly curable basal cell or
squamous cell cancers in men and women. They are more common among individuals
with lightly pigmented skin. Although overall, men are more likely than women to
develop skin cancer, women under the age of 40 comprise the fastest growing group of
skin cancer patients. The prevalence of melanoma-the most serious form of skin cancer-
has doubled since 1973 from 6 cases per 100,000 people to 12 per 100,000. The most
serious form of skin cancer is melanoma, and it is estimated that in 2002 that about
23,500 women will be diagnosed with this form of skin cancer.

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