In the year 2001 approximately 194,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed - making it the leading cancer diagnosis in women. Speaking at a presentation in the Medicine for the Public lecture series, Dr. JoAnne Zujewski of the National Cancer Institute says there are certain things that women can do to reduce the risk of developing or dying from breast cancer.
"Screening mammography has been shown to decrease mortality from breast cancer. So women over the age of 40 or older should get a mammogram every year or two. Maintaining ideal body weight through diet and exercise is recommended. Women at increased risk of developing breast cancer can consider chemoprevention or prophylactic surgery if they're at high risk. Breast conserving therapy - meaning lumpectomy and radiation - is an option for most women with breast cancer. Adjuvant systemic therapy - with chemotherapy, hormonal therapy, or both - has been shown to improve survival with women in breast cancer, so many women get this even at very early stage."
Dr. Zujewski says the challenge for the future is to develop therapies for cancer that has spread beyond the breast, develop less toxic therapies, and prevent the development of cancer in high risk women.
This is Calvin Jackson, the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland.