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Detecting Breast Cancer Early Saving Lives

September 30, 2009, 5:02 PM by Kelli Grant

Detecting Breast Cancer Early Saving Lives
Just in time for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, there's a new report that shows the importance of awareness. The report from the American Cancer Society says thanks to more doctors identifying breast cancer in the early stages, more women are surviving the disease.

Lynda Wertheim was diagnosed with stage two breast cancer at 48.

"You learn what's important in life," said Breast Cancer Survivor Lynda Wertheim. 

12 years later, she's living life to its fullest, and there are more and more women out there like Lynda. According to the American Cancer Society the death rate from breast cancer has dropped more than 2% a year for the past decade. That means this year alone, 15,000 lives will be saved.

"Much of the improvement in breast cancer mortality is a result of early detection," said Dr. Freya Schnabel, the director of Breast Surgery at NYU Langone Medical Center.

Identifying major risk factors like genetics and taking postmenopausal hormones have also improved the survival rate.

The report estimates 192,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year. As of 2006, 2.5 million women in the U.S. were living with breast cancer . But 40,000 women are expected to die from the disease this year.

"There is a suggestion that there may be a more aggressive variant of disease that seen particularly in young African American women," said Schnabel.

But the latest statistics show death rates are dropping across the board for all women.

"I think the first reaction many people have when they are diagnosed with breast cancer is that they're going to die, but they're not," said Wertheim.

Experts stress the key to winning the battle against breast cancer is to get an annual mammogram starting at age 40.  To read the full report, we've set up a link for you.

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