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Breast Cancer Death Rates Continue to Drop 2% Annually
Date:9/30/2009

This includes maintaining a healthy body weight, keeping fit through exercise, and limiting alcohol consumption, he said.

Dr. Harold J. Burstein, of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston and an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, said, "We are making real progress against breast cancer."

"Sometimes there is a lot of nihilism. People worry that we are not winning the war on cancer," he said. "In this particular battle, we are clearly winning. It is slow, hard progress, but we are winning."

"We are not winning because we have a new secret weapon," Burstein added. "We are winning because we have a better infrastructure, because we have educated patients and doctors, because we do have new tools becoming available, because we have new insights into the biology of the cancer -- all those things are making a difference."

Other highlights of the report include:

  • In 2009, some 192,370 American women will be diagnosed with breast cancer, accounting for more than one in four cancers diagnosed.
  • In 2009, an estimated 40,170 women will die from breast cancer; only lung cancer kills more women.
  • Data from 2006 -- the most recent statistics available -- showed that about 2.5 million American women have a history of breast cancer. Most of these women were cancer-free. Others were still undergoing treatment.
  • From 2002 to 2003, there was sharp decline in breast cancer rates, particularly for women aged 50 to 69. This reflects the drop in hormone replacement therapy by menopausal and postmenopausal women that began in 2002. Breast cancer rates have remained about the same since 2003.
  • Since 1990, breast cancer death rates have dropped steadily. The decline has been greater among women under 50 (3.2 percent per year) than among women over 50 (2 percent per year).
  • From 1997 to 2006, breast cancer deaths dropped by 1.9 percent a year among wh
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