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Buddy to Buddy: The state of breast cancer in 2021

While the number of diagnosed cases is increasing, mortality rates are decreasing.

PORTLAND, Maine — As we enter a new year, here is a look at the status of breast cancer in the United States according to the American Cancer Society...

First some basic stats. About one in eight women in the U.S, or 12%, will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. Breast cancer is the second most commonly diagnosed cancer among American women, after skin cancer.
It is the second most deadly cancer, after lung cancer.

The most significant risk factors for breast cancer are sex-- being a woman, and age-- growing older. Up to 10% of breast cancers can be linked to known gene mutations inherited from your mother or father. Those are the things you can't control. Among the top risk factors, you can control are alcohol consumption, obesity, and the use of hormone replacement therapy after menopause.

With all the attention focused on breast cancer in recent years, you may be wondering if science and medicine are making any progress. The number of cases diagnosed each year has actually been increasing by about point-3-percent each year since 2004. One theory is that increasing obesity rates and decreasing fertility rates are driving that. However, when it comes to mortality, between 2013 and 2017, the last period for which we have statistics, the overall death rate from breast cancer decreased by 1.3%, per year. These decreases are thought to be the result of treatment advances and earlier detection through screening.

Lastly, here are three positive developments to watch when it comes to prevention and treatment of breast cancer: 

-In the last year, the FDA has approved four new drugs to treat her-2 positive breast cancers, which account for about 20% of all cases.
-There is a new therapy for triple-negative metastatic breast cancer.
-Just last month, the FDA approved a triple-negative breast cancer vaccine for use in human clinical trials. While it could be years before it actually hits the market, researchers say the technology used to develop the vaccine could be applicable to other types of cancer, as well.