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Institute for Women's Health Research   Putting Women's Health FirstOctober 2011
In This Issue
The Changing Face of Breast Cancer
Upcoming Events
Health Tip

Dear Friends,


Since 1985, October has been designated as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (NBCAM) throughout the United States.  It began as a partnership between a pharmaceutical company and several national cancer organizations and continues today. In our hometown, Chicago, many major buildings including the Merchandise Mart, Willis (formerly Sears) Tower, and the Hancock Building are lit pink every night during the month. Local hospitals and clinics offer specials on mammography and health organizations everywhere are sponsoring educational and awareness events. We hope you take advantage of these offers.


Beyond the pink, NBCAM reaffirms our commitment to eradicate this second most common cancer in women through early detection, prevention strategies, effective treatments, and research. This month's e-newsletter explores some of the progress that has been made by linking you to our breast cancer related blogs posted this past year.


The Institute Staff


Chicago lights up for National Breast Cancer Awareness Month  






In 1985, there were 119,000 cases of female breast cancer and 36,483 deaths in the U.S. (SEERS). This year, it is estimated that more than 230,000 U.S. women will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer and nearly 40,000 will die of the disease (American Cancer Society). While the incidence numbers have grown, the death rate has decreased. In 1985, breast cancer was the number one kill of women; today the number one cancer killer of women is lung cancer. However, breast cancer remains the most common type of cancer diagnosed in women then and now.
Historically, the increase in cases of breast cancer is  partially due to reproductive factors, namely delayed childbearing and a decrease in the number of children today's women have. Another reason for the increase in breast cancer incidence is the greater use of mammography, which finds cancers that are too small to be felt, sometimes 1-3 year earlier than they would have been found without the advances in mammography screenings. Other factors that may account for the increased incidence are the rise in obesity and menopause hormone use, areas that are being researched today.


The breast  cancer death rate in the U.S. has been declining steadily since 1989-90. The overall decrease in mortality can be attributed to earlier detection (when the tumor is small and more treatable) and better treatments. However, the improvements have not been seen in all populations, especially for African-American women.


The causes of breast cancer remain largely unknown. Studies suggest that the growth of breast cancer is often affected by the presence of estrogen and genetic factors.




The following list includes links to our blogs on breast cancer that were posted throughout this past year. They are sorted by category so that you can click directly on the topics that interest you.  We hope you find them interesting and join the nearly 40,000 individuals from 165 countries who visit the Institute for Women's Health Research blog to learn about breast cancer and prevailing women's health issues. We have also included some of the links from our sister site, the Oncofertility Consortium blog.  

Risk Factors for Breast Cancer

Alcohol and breast cancer

Circadian rhythm and breast cancer

Hormone therapy and breast cancer risk

Hot flashes associated with lower risk of breast cancer

Does genetic testing improve health?

Breast Cancer Screening and Diagnosis

3-D mammography system approved

Beware of limitations for breast cancer thermography

Free breast cancer screening

Breast cancer awareness month improving early diagnosis


Preventive surgeries may save lives

Breast cancer, aromatase inhibitors, vitamin D, and muscle pain

Breast cancer therapy contributes to hip fracture risk

Can topical skin gel shrink some breast cancer tumors?

Test approved to determine if breast tumor may be sensitive to herceptin

Cancer survivors can't shake pain, fatigue, insomnia, foggy brain

Step-by-step decisions lead to smarter choices

Fertility and Cancer

Oncologists the gatekeepers to fertility preservation

A personal story of preventative ovarian removal

Menopause vs. infertility after cancer

Exploring Disparities in Breast Cancer among Subgroups

Women with disabilities and breast cancer

Reasons unknown why black women have poorer survival rates

Stress and breast cancer in minority women

Breast Reconstruction

Does insurance cover breast reconstruction?

FDA issues followup report on silicone breast implants

Breast implants may increase risk for rare cancer





American Cancer Society 




October 29, 2011, 9:00am - 4:00pm
Howard Brown Health Center Continuing Education Health Seminar for Nurses
Chamberlain College of Nurses, Chicago, Illinois


November 1, 2011, 12:00pm 

IWHR Monthly Research Forum--Estrogen and Sexual Health   

Prentice Women's Hospital, Chicago, Illinois  


December 13, 2011, 12:00pm

 IWHR Monthly Research Forum--A Scientific Update on Estrogen and Cognition  

Prentice Women's Hospital, Chicago, Illinois 


There are many wonderful resources for newly diagnosed cancer patients to learn about their treatment options, including the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute. However, when it comes to quality of life and the stress women and their families undergo, there is nothing like being able to talk to someone who was 'walked in your shoes'.


Y-ME is the only place in the world a breast cancer patient - from the day of diagnosis throughout the course of the disease - can call 24/7 to speak with a peer, someone who understands the physical and emotional challenges breast cancer patients face. For over 30 years, Y-ME, founded in Chicago, has had a single mission - to assure, through information, empowerment, and peer support, that no one faces breast cancer alone. Their peer counselors are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, in over 150 languages, through their toll-free hotline at 1-800-221-2141 or by visiting   


Illinois Women's Health Registry News    

The Registry already has over 6400 participants and has helped fill nearly 20 clinical research studies at Northwestern University, Northwestern Memorial Hospital and other institutions across the state, including the University of Illinois at Chicago and Loyola University. New researchers are contacting us weekly with requests for study participants. If you have not already joined, please do so by signing up here. If you are already enrolled, please encourage the women in your life, including friends, family, and co-workers, to join and help advance women's health research across Illinois!


The e-newsletter topic this month is breast cancer, the second most common form of cancer in women. Out of all of the Women's Health Registry members, 29% of women have had an evaluation for a lump in their breast. Of those women, 38% have had a biopsy and 18% have had more than one biopsy. 4% of our Registry participants have been diagnosed with breast cancer.