Breast cancer is the mostfrequently diagnosed cancer in women.

According to statisticsprovided by the American Cancer Society, roughly 178,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to occur among women in the United States this year. And an average of more than 8,100 new cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed in Ohio.

An estimated 40,460 women nationally are anticipated to die from breast cancer in 2008. More than 1,900 women will be from Ohio. Breast cancer ranks second in cancer deaths among women. Only lung cancer accounts for more female cancer deaths.

But findings show there is room for hope. Nearly all breast cancers can be treated successfully if detected early.

The American Cancer Society recommends an annual mammogram beginning at age 40 as the most effective way to detect breast cancer at an early, curable stage. Annual clinical breast exams by a doctor or nurse and monthly self-breast examinations are additional ways to detect breast cancer early.

Mammography is especially valuable as an early detection tool because it can identify breast cancer at an early stage, usually before physical symptoms develop. Numerous studies have shown that early detection saves lives and increases treatment options.

Improved mammography screening to detect breast cancer early, along with better treatment options, have made breast cancer a more curable disease than it was 30 years ago. And the five-year relative survival probability for localized breast cancer increased from 80 percent in the 1950s to 98 percent in 1996-2003, according to statistics.

Age plays a large factor in breast cancer. Approximately 95 percent of Ohio women who developed breast cancer were 40 and over. Women should begin having yearly mammograms at age 40. If there is a family history of cancer, women should consult their doctor about having a mammogram at a younger age.

And though great strides have been made in the fight against breast cancer, statistics show that not all women are getting regularly-scheduled mammograms.

According to the 2006 Ohio Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey (BRFSS), only 61 percent of Ohio women 40 and older reported having had a mammogram in the past year.

Tell A Friend, a program of the American Cancer Society, uses "peer counseling" to increase the number of women getting mammograms. Through Tell A Friend, trained volunteer callers contact five friends or acquaintances to encourage them to get a mammogram, a tested strategy with proven results. This special effort by someone she knows may convince a woman to get a mammogram, or it may bring her closer to making that decision in the future. To find out more about this program, contact the American cancer Society Ohio Division toll free at (888) 227-OHIO (6446).

It is important to note that breast cancer affects men as well as women. This year, more than 2,000 new cases of breast cancer are expected to occur nationally among males, about 63 in Ohio. Approximately 450 men across the country are expected to die this year of the disease. Clinically, breast cancer in men is verysimilar to breast cancer in women. But the prognosis is often poorer because men tend to be diagnosed at a later stage than women.

Patients should discusspossible options for the bestmanagement of their breast cancer with their physicians.

Taking into account thetumor size, stage and othercharacteristics, as well as the patient's preferences, treatment may involve lumpectomy(surgical removal of the tumor) or mastectomy (surgical removal of the breast) and removal of the lymph nodes under the arm if cancer has spread to the nodes; radiation therapy; chemotherapy; hormone therapy (tamoxifen, aromatase inhibitors); or targeted biologic therapy (trastuzumab). Often, two or more methods are used in combination. Numerous studies have shown that, for early stage disease, the long-term survival rate after lumpectomy plus radiation therapy is similar to the survival rate after mastectomy.