In the stores, on the television, even on the football fields — October has a pink hue. In the last few years, October has become well known as Breast Cancer Awareness month. Why all of the attention? Because according to the American Cancer Society, about 1 in 8 U.S. women (about 12%) will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. In 2016, an estimated 246,660 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in women in the U.S., along with 61,000 new cases of non-invasive (in situ) breast cancer. Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women. (Only lung cancer kills more women each year.) The chance that a woman will die from breast cancer is about 1 in 36 (about 3%).
These are more than statistics, these are our mothers, grandmothers, sisters, daughters and friends.
Death rates from breast cancer have been dropping since about 1989, with larger decreases in women younger than 50. These decreases are believed to be the result of finding breast cancer earlier through screening and increased awareness, as well as better treatments. Increased awareness is thanks in part to women who share their stories, reminding others to undergo their annual screenings and shed some insight on the journey that unfolds after diagnosis.
Missy Schentzel, of Lennox, went in for her annual mammogram in March of 2013. She had had normal mammograms for the past two years, and a doctor even said she could probably skip a year; but she went in.
They discovered spots thought to be calcium deposits. She had a three dimensional mammogram. With the spots still suspicious, they preformed a needle biopsy in April. The results came back cancerous. The next course of action was to have a surgical biopsy—remove a section of the breast to determine the kind of cancer.
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