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Breast Cancer Cases Drop Dramatically Across The Country

Some good news about breast cancer rates in the US. Federal statistics show the rate dropped more than seven percent in 2003. That is one year after a federal study said menopause hormones could put women at a higher risk of breast cancer.

News on 6 reporter Jennifer Loren talks with a breast cancer survivor who says this news is bitter sweet.

Gan Weddle is looking forward to another Christmas with her family. She is a breast cancer survivor. She had a mastectomy and went through chemo to get rid of the disease. But back in 2000, when she was first diagnosed she was shocked to hear her doctor's first instructions. “Stop taking the hormones that I was taking." Weddle had been taking hormone replacement pills for ten years. It’s what her doctor told her to do after hitting menopause. "At the time that was what they did, they prescribed hormones and that took care of it all and I immediately felt better."

But when her doctor said to stop taking it, she began suspecting the hormones as the cause of her cancer. "Well I immediately said 'Is that why I have breast cancer because it doesn't run in my family? There's no history in my family."

She says she never got a straight answer. But now we're learning more about those hormones and their possible links to her disease. New statistics show breast cancer rates in the US dropped a dramatic 7.2 percent in one year.

About 200,000 cases of breast cancer were expected in 2003. But only 186,000 women were actually diagnosed with it. Experts say they believe the decline is because many women stopped taking the hormone replacement pills in 2002. That's when their possible link to breast cancer was first revealed.

Six years later, Weddle still doesn't have it on paper. But she says she, herself, knows those hormones caused her cancer. She hopes other women will take this new report as a warning. "I'm glad that they're telling other people not to take hormones. I think that's a very good idea. I've told many people that myself."

Many experts say they want to know whether this trend will continue before they decide there is a direct link.

Federal statistics for 2004 are expected in April.
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