The Gonzaga Women will host the Loyoyla Marymount (CA) Lions today at 5pm EST for the annual Pink Game in a matchup that will be shown on ESPN+. The Pink Game is a venture many teams across the nation undertake as a way to highlight all cancers suffered by women in this nation and I want to use my space to highlight some important information about cancer. If you want to skip to the game preview, please go down to where you see the second horizontal bar.
According to the National Cancer Institute, the three most common cancers for women are breast, lung, and colorectal. I want to cover these in a bit of detail including their rates of occurrence, mortality, and ways we as patients can protect ourselves.
In 2023, it was estimated that there would be 297,790 new cases of breast cancer in the US, which would account for just over 15% of all new cancer cases among women, and this may result in an estimated 43,170 deaths. Approximately 13.0 percent of women will be diagnosed with female breast cancer at some point during their lifetime, based on 2017–2019 data.
Unlike the other two most common cancers for women, breast cancer has not seen a notable drop in the number of new documented cases since 1992 as it has roughly hovered between 126-139 per 100,000 persons across that timeline. Thankfully, the mortality rate has dropped during that timeline, as in 1992 it was 31 per 100,000 and in 2019 it was 19 per 100,000. Thankfully, breast cancer has a 5-year survival rate of 90.8% (based on data from 2013-2019) and when caught early, it can be treated quite effectively.
The USPSTF publishes material analyzing data from research across medicine to help physicians and other medical providers screen for various medical conditions, not just cancer, in our population. At the time of publishing this article, “The USPSTF concludes with moderate certainty that the net benefit of screening mammography in women aged 50 to 74 years is moderate.” (source). Now, the idea of “moderate” relates to a more complex discussion and can be reviewed here. In short, a “moderate” recommendation qualifies as a “B” level recommendation and “there is high certainty that the net benefit is moderate or there is moderate certainty that the net benefit is moderate to substantial” so the service should be offered to patients.
There is a more complex discussion about women aged 40-49 years, which I will briefly get into as the USPSTF rates the recommendation for earlier screening as a “C”. According to this organization, a “C” level recommendation means that medical providers “offer [...] this service for selected patients depending on individual circumstances.” The “C” level recommendation relates to the small benefit seen with earlier screening that may come with risks to the patient such as false positives, overtreatment, and smaller benefit of death reduction. If you would like to read more, head here, but please also discuss this with your physician, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant as they will have the opportunity to have an in-depth and indivdualized discussion with you based on your preferences, family history, and educate you way more than an article posted by some guy on a website discussing basketball.
Lung & Bronchus Cancer
For lung & bronchus cancer, in 2023, it was estimated that there would be 238,340 new cancer cases, which would account for just over 12% of all new cancer cases among all persons, and may result in 127,070 deaths, which accounts for the highest amount of deaths from cancer in the US. Approximately 6.1 percent of men and women will be diagnosed with lung and bronchus cancer at some point during their lifetime, based on 2017–2019 data.
When looking at the trend of this cancer, we’ve seen a pretty steep drop in both new cases and mortality rate since 1992 when it peaked at 64.7/58.9 per 100,000 and was recently 41.8/33.4 per 100,000 in 2019. Unfortunately, compared to breast cancer, lung & bronchus cancer carriers a lower 5-year survival rate of just 25.4% (based on data from 2013-2019) and this could be because symptoms of such disease do not often arise until the cancer is advanced. Thankfully, that number has risen notably as in 1992, it sat at just 13.2%, so there is hope moving forward. here is a link to the CDC’s article on possible symptoms.
Tobacco smoking is considered a risk factor for lung & bronchus cancer, among other cancers, and as such, the USPSTF recommends that “annual screening for lung cancer with low-dose computed tomography (LDCT) in adults aged 50 to 80 years who have a 20 pack-year smoking history and currently smoke or have quit within the past 15 years.”
That being said, not all lung cancers relate to smoking. Unfortunately, because of our current technology, there are not always agreed upon methods to screen for lung cancer in those without a smoking history. One type that I would like to highlight here is adenocarcinoma of the lung because it is the most common subtype of lung cancer in those under 45 years old and it occurs more commonly in women.
Nothing screams glamour like a** cancer but we need to talk about the non-glamorous side of life from time to time. It has been estimated in 2023 that there would be 153,020 new cases of colorectal cancer, which would account for 7.8% of all new cancer cases, and may result in 52,550 deaths, which would represent 8.6% of all cancer related deaths.
As with lung & bronchus cancer, the trend of colorectal cancer has dropped since 1992 when it was 56 per 100,000 compared to 34.5 per 100,000 in 2019. Based on data from 2013 to 2019, the 5-year survival rate is 65%. One of the problems with this type of cancer relates to the late emergence of symptoms relative to the progression of the disease. As such, screening is essential.
The most recent USPSTF recommendations for colorectal cancer screening broken up into two categories based on risk and age. For average risk patients, there exists a B level recommendation for those 45-49 years to undergo screening. The ways to accomplish your screening are described here. Meanwhile an A level recommendation exists for those 50-75 years to undergo screening and that population can procure their testing with similar tools as listed previously.
Note, average risk means “no prior diagnosis of colorectal cancer, adenomatous polyps, or inflammatory bowel disease; no personal diagnosis or family history of known genetic disorders that predispose them to a high lifetime risk of colorectal cancer [such as Lynch syndrome or familial adenomatous polyposis]”. For those high risk patients, monitoring for colorectal cancer is vastly different and I won’t get into that discussion today.
I am not trying to replace or supplant what your current medical professional offers or discusses with you. I am not trying to, nor can I, provide you with personalized medical advice. I am not trying to force you into any one of way thinking about cancer care/detection.
I am trying to share information with you about a complex topic with direct sources of information as I believe that medicine can, and should be, made accessible for all. I am more than willing to clarify items discussed above, but please understand that my sole reason for writing this is help our population achieve better health outcomes.
So, I might have overdone myself with all the writing above so I’m going to keep the game preview short and focus on some key elements:
- Gonzaga is currently ranked 12th in the NET rankings. It will be interesting to see how the AP and Coaches rankings move forward for the remainder of the year and the Selection Committee utilizes NET for NCAA seeding.
- Since Gonzaga and LMU last faced off on January 8th, the Lions are 2-3 with wins over USD and Pepperdine and loses to USF, Santa Clara, and Portland. Across that time, they’re shooting 40% overall and 35% from three point range, although those numbers drop substantially in their loses where they have shot an average of 36% while also turning the ball over 19 times per game.
- Gonzaga will again be without Yvonne Ejim as she remains with Team Canada in Hungary as they face off against Japan tomorrow. Yvonne hasn’t played much in the previous two games, but I’m hoping the experience of repping her national team is going well. That being said, in the last matchup, Ejim led the Zags with 24 points with only Brynna Maxwell and Kaylynne Truong reaching double figures. If the Pacific game was any indication, the Bulldogs should be able to withstand Ejim’s absence, but it will still be a point to watch.
- LMU may only 39% from the floor this season, but they are cleaning up their misses as they lead the country with just over 13 offensive rebounds per game, which qualifies as 70th nationally (source), so it will be important for the Bulldogs to stay tough in the paint without Ejim’s prowess there.
Be sure to rock your Zag gear, hit ESPN+ (or the radio if that’s your bag), and hit the comments below as the game proceeds to share your thoughts on the game play. Catch you all with the recap later.