An old disease with new developments

Tell someone you've been diagnosed with breast cancer and they may tell you a similar story of their own. Perhaps they, too, have received the same news or know someone who has.

Tell someone you've been diagnosed with breast cancer and they may tell you a similar story of their own. Perhaps they, too, have received the same news or know someone who has.

Breast cancer is a devastating disease and a major health concern with awareness efforts emphasized in October.

If breast cancer becomes a part of your life or the life of a loved one, you can turn to the American Cancer Society (ACS). Millions of people do so each year. ACS offers many programs and services, available online, in person, by phone, mail or fax that can help reduce the guesswork in dealing with cancer-related issues. Call 800-ACS-2345 anytime, night or day, weekends and holidays, to talk to a trained cancer specialist who can provide you with information and a connection to local resources. Or log on to for extensive cancer information.

Since 1972, ACS has funded more than $290 million in breast cancer research grants. ACS also actively works to help pass laws and develop public policies that secure investments in research and prevention, give greater access to care and improve quality of life for breast cancer patients. ACS is responsible for instituting strong quality standards for clinics to provide mammographies and ensure patients receive timely and accurate information.

ACS also is dedicated to reducing disparities in breast cancer diagnoses and deaths among minority and medically underserved populations.


ACS continues to be successful in fighting breast cancer, but the fight is not over.

This year alone, more than 3,060 Minnesota women are expected to be diagnosed with breast cancer and more than 590 will die from the disease. Nationally, more than 212,000 women will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer and nearly 41,000 will die.

We particularly want women to be aware of a little known type that is striking women. Inflammatory breast cancer is a rare cancer that gets its name from the appearance of the skin on the breast. Inflammatory breast cancer is an aggressive type of locally advanced cancer that occurs in a very small percentage of women with breast cancer.

Typically women with inflammatory breast cancer are diagnosed at a younger age than those diagnosed with other forms of breast cancer. They're more likely to experience cancer spread (metastasis), and they have a greater chance of succumbing to the disease than women with noninflammatory breast cancer. In very rare circumstances, inflammatory breast cancer is diagnosed in men.

Historically, survival statistics have been grim for women diagnosed with inflammatory breast cancer, but there's hope. According to the Mayo Clinic Web site ( ), new approaches in treatment offer greater odds for survival than ever before.

Numerous studies have shown that early detection of all types of breast cancer saves lives and increases treatment options. The five-year survival rate for breast cancer is 98 percent among individuals whose cancer has not spread beyond the breast at time of diagnosis.

Through generous donations and ACS programs and services, research funding and advocacy efforts, the ACS will continue to battle breast cancer every month of every year.

(Maribeth Swenty, American Cancer Society Minnesota vice president, contributed to this editorial.)

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