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The Ranks of MN Survivors Growing: Breast Cancer Awareness Month

While survival rates continue to rise, around 600 women in Minnesota will die from breast cancer this year. Credit: AtnoYdur
While survival rates continue to rise, around 600 women in Minnesota will die from breast cancer this year. Credit: AtnoYdur
October 5, 2015

ST. PAUL, Minn. – October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and in Minnesota the event is being observed by a growing number of survivors.

Over the past 25 years, the death rate from breast cancer has dropped by more than a third.

Matt Flory, state health systems manager with the American Cancer Society, credits new and better treatment options, along with more people getting screened.

"And if we catch it earlier, it is just a much more treatable disease,” he stresses. “So breast cancer survival rates are well over 90 percent if we catch it in an early stage.

“More women get mammograms and that means more women are being diagnosed in those early more treatable stages."

While there are differing opinions on when and how often women should get mammograms, Flory says the most important thing is to start talking to your doctor about this around the age of 40 to determine your individual needs.

Risk factors include lifestyle choices, such as diet, physical activity and smoking. Family history is also a risk factor, but not necessarily common.

"The great majority of women diagnosed with breast cancer have no family history,” Flory points out. “So we just want people, if they have it, to make sure they talk to their doctor about it, but we also don't want people to say, 'Oh, well it's not in my family, so I don't need to worry about it.' Something like 8-in-10 of women diagnosed with cancer had no family history."

Each year in Minnesota, there are around 4,000 women newly diagnosed with breast cancer, along with roughly 600 deaths from the disease.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - MN