October 3, 2017

Breast cancer death rates drop almost 40%

Washington Post - Breast cancer death rates declined almost 40 percent between 1989 and 2015, averting 322,600 deaths, the American Cancer Society reported. Breast cancer death rates increased by 0.4 percent per year from 1975 to 1989, according to the study. After that, mortality rates decreased rapidly, for a 39 percent drop overall through 2015.  The report, the latest to document a long-term reduction in breast-cancer mortality, attributed the declines to both improvements in treatments and to early detection by mammography.


Geoffrey Levens said...

Dare I quote our Celestial Lord High Bungholio? "FAKE NEWS!" These stats are all based on 5 year survival rate (industry standard m.o.) Due to more intensive scans (which increase cancer risk from radiation exposure in the long run) breast cancer is being detected earlier in its course so there is longer time to administer quality of life destroying treatments which really do not much increase total life span of the person.
Those intensive treatments also tend to destroy the immune system making other approaches less likely to succeed. Prevention is really where the $$$ should be going!

Anonymous said...

Thank you Geoffory, I agree.

Another thing this article misses is in 2002 it was discovered that Hormone Replacement Therapy(HRT) increases risk of breast cancer by 75%. In 1989 HTR was considered a panacea for treating menopause symptoms, and widely prescribed. Now fewer doctors offer HTR because of the cancer risk, and most that do only give it for a short time. That alone could be the entire reason that breast cancer rates have dropped. This suggests much of the past few decades of breast cancer rates was another case of doctor/big pharma caused illness.

There are a couple of other changes that could have contributed to this reduction.

Breast feeding is more common now then it was in 1989. Women who breastfeed for over a year have significantly lower rates of breast cancer, and the longer a woman breast feeds the more her risk drops. If the child is female, she will have lower breast cancer risk from being breast fed. Of course the formula companies try to suppress this information with marketing material that suggest breast feeding is too difficult a task for most women. Formula companies fund maternity wards in hospitals, and give new mothers formula samples when they take their new babies home for "just in case". Starting breastfeeding is tricky for a lot of women, and the sample sitting there at home encourages new mothers to stop trying to breast feed at the first stumbling block. Hospitals rarely have a breastfeeding specialist on staff, but they probably have a formula company rep hanging around handing out samples to new mothers.

Raising the age for first mammograms is another source of lower breast cancer rates. Pre-menopausal breast tissue is more vulnerable to radiation damage then post menopausal breast tissue. By subjecting women to early mammograms, the healthcare industry was increasing breast cancer. To make matters worse, mammograms on pre menopausal breast tissue increases false positives, which only harms women, even when further examination shows it's not cancer.

Mammograms are not a great diagnostic tool, my doctor even admits this. Even with post menopausal women, the rates of false positives and false negatives shows how poor mammograms perform. My mother's breast cancer, which was diagnosed after 15 years of HTR, was not found by a mammogram, but by a breast exam by her doctor. MRI's do a much better job of detection breast cancer, and are safer for most women. But a MRI, even if it was on a modified machine that only examined the breast, would actually save lives and catch cancer at it's most treatable time, will not happen in the US until we have single payer, and the incentives of the healthcare industry to create sickness goes away.

Once my mother's breast cancer was diagnosed, she did all the treatments her doctors recommended, including chemo. The difference in her vitality between before and after chemo, is like night and day. Before chemo she was in her late 70s but still active and vital. Since chemo, she has had little vigor and chemo seems to have aged her 10 or 15 years in the space of 18 months. She had to give up most of the things she enjoyed, like Lions Club or being very active in her church. Yes she has survived cancer for almost 10 years now, but her quality of life certainly took a hit from that damn chemo, and sometimes she wonders if it was all worth it.

Anonymous said...

Before chemo she was in her late 70s but still active and vital. ... her quality of life certainly took a hit from that damn chemo, and sometimes she wonders if it was all worth it.

I believe death generally delivers a much bigger hit than chemo.

Geoffrey Levens said...

"I believe death generally delivers a much bigger hit than chemo."

It depends on how you define "living" and how much you value just being embodied for its own sake. If you can't do anything you enjoy doing, if most of your ability to engage with life has been stripped away, you may find it preferable to face the mystery of what comes after (if anything). We can speculate endlessly but I have found in my own life that in the big things like this, you really have no idea what you will decide to actually do until you get there yourself.