Did you know that, according to the CDC, when it comes to cancer, breast cancer is the second most common type in women here in the United States? The only cancer more common is skin cancer, creating a very sobering statistic. Roughly 264,000 cases are diagnosed yearly in women, with just 2,400 cases in men. The good news is that deaths have declined, with about 42,000 deaths yearly. And while that is a positive, it’s still too much and that’s why the medical community continues to push forward and look for solutions and advancements.
Curious about where the fight against breast cancer stands today? Here are three important advances that are making a positive difference.
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Looking for Better More Efficient Means of Early Detection
Just like any other type of cancer, early detection is key to treating the disease and having a more positive prognosis. The earlier breast cancer can be detected, the faster treatment can begin. Up until this point, mammography has been used as a screening tool and has been very effective. But it’s also led researchers to question if they could get even better, and earlier results.
Technology is advancing at breakneck speeds and that includes advancements in imaging. One option getting a lot of traction is 3-D mammography which can take an image from various positions and then build a 3-D model of the breast. It gives a more complete picture and can help to detect breast cancer even earlier.
As for where this technology stands right now, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) is funding a randomized large-scale breast screening trial using 3-D imaging technology. The trial will run for five years and compare how many cancers are detected in women using 3-D imaging versus 2-D traditional mammography.
Data Analytics is Playing a Big Role
With so much attention on medical research and advancements, sometimes people overlook the less glamorous side and that is the collection of data. Data analytics in cancer is advancing such important factors as predictive analysis and detecting disease earlier. This data works to reduce people’s risk, enhance treatment plans, aid in research and improve survivability statistics.Data mining in healthcare is truly re-shaping the medical industry and with so much promise and possibility it seems we are only scratching the surface at the moment.
Data analytics in cancer has also made for a very interesting and rewarding career path for those with a passion for statistics, data, and numbers, and a desire to make a positive impact on the world.
Understanding Risk Factors and How a Person Can Lower Them
With increased knowledge of how breast cancer develops, there is also a push to better educate people on risk factors and what they can do to potentially lower their risk of developing it.
Some of the lifestyle changes recommended by experts such as the CDC include:
- Staying physically active
- Maintaining a healthy body weight
- Breastfeeding children if able
- Abstaining from drinking alcohol or drinking in moderation
The good news is that the fight against breast cancer has come a long way with a lot of successes and achievements, and more continues to be discovered about this disease.