.: Put To The Test :.

How much do you know about breast cancer? Compare notes with these rising stars.

Every week on the WB network, Alyson Hannigan, Tangi Miller and Holly Marie Combs face a host of dramatic challenges. We asked these three actresses to take a harder test - one that queried them on the facts and myths of breast cancer. The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, in conjunction with Ford, developed a special questionnaire whose answers both surprised and informed these young women. Inside, they descuss their results and urge you and your loved ones to take this important test too.

These young actresses set out to educate other woman about breast cancer and learned a few things themselves.

Moderator: Have any of you had first-hand, personal experience with breast cancer?

Holly: My mother had a bad scare, but thankfully it was just a large cyst, which she got removed.

Tangi: I'm currently involved with a group that supports African-American woman who are fighting the disease.

Alyson: My accountant was having regular mammograms and they found early stage beast cancer. She went through chemo and radiation and now she's in remission. She's positive that the mammograms saved her life.

Moderator: When do you think you will need your first mammogram?

Alyson and Tangi: 35?

Holly: I answered 40 but I think it's younger.

Moderator: Currently the Komen foundation recommends regular screening mammograms starting at age 40. However, woman under 40 with either a family history of breast cancer or concerns about their personal risk should consult with a trained medical professional on when to begin mammography.

Tangi: I read on the internet that African-American women tend to get breast cancer younger than other women do, and die more often from it. Is this true?

Moderator:Great question. African-American's are at a greater risk of developing breast cancer at a younger age. Their mortatlity rate is about 20% higher than that of white woman. Current studies indicate that this may have something to do with later detection and a greater likelihood of more aggressive tumours, among other factors. In any case, Participation in routine mammographic screening and earlier treatment are considered the best hope for improving survival rates. Now, what about breast self-exams? How did you answer the second question?

In Unison: All of the above.

Moderator: Correct. Women should perform self exam at the same time every month as young as age 20, even if it's simply to develop a routine. How many breast cancers are due to heredity?

Alyson: I said 30-35%.

Tangi: I think it's higher than that. If your mother has it, you're more likely to get it.

Moderator: This may be the biggest misperception out there. Only 5-10% of all breast cancers are due to heredity. So many women think "My mother didn't get it, so neither will I." when most breast cancers, in fact, have no hereditary connection.
Tangi: I've read a lot about inherited genetic mutations. What about those?
Moderator: If breast cancer seems to run in your family, say your mother, grandmother and aunt all have it, you may belong to that rare 5-10% who have an inherited mutation that may lead to the development of the disease. If you think you might, you should ask your doctor.

Alyson: I want to know how many women get it every year. I wrote 182,800.

Holly and Tangi: So did I.

Moderator: Your all right. Even with all the advances made in the last 20 years, the number is still alarmingly high.

Tangi: What about men? I answered 1,400. It feels like a trick question!

Moderator: People are often surprised to learn that 1,400 American men get cancer every year. It's rare, but it does happen.
Holly: The key question is how many women die from it? I answered 40,800, but I really hope I'm wrong.

Moderator: Sadly, the answer is 40,800 American women will die this year of breast cancer. The number has decreased over the years as a result of earlier detection and improved treatment. But it's still 40,800 too many.

Holly: That's horrible. That's a whole town of women.

Alyson: That is really scary.

Moderator: What about birth control pills?

Alyson: I heard there are tons of benefits to being on "The Pill" as a younger woman. I figured there wasn't any risk.

Tangi: I answered no risk.

Moderator: The evidence suggests that birth control pills may lower your risk for developing ovarian cancer, but they may slightly increase your risk for developing breast cancer if taken for 5 years or longer. Ten years after stopping use, there is no increased risk.

Tangi: That's important to get out there. I bet a lot of women don't know that.

Moderator: The next few questions throw out some statistics - important ones. Breast cancer accounts for what percent of all new cancer cases among American women?

Tangi: I said 50%. Breast cancer is so common.

Holly: Thirty percent.

Moderator: Thirty percent is correct. Holly, I think you might be heading for an "A."

Holly:No, I've gotten a few wrong!

Moderator: Okay, next question: When breast cancer is confined to one breast, the five - year survival rate is what?

Alyson and Tangi: I think it's 75%.

Holly: I said 55%.

Moderator: No. The good news is, when breast cancer is confined to one breast, the five - year survival rate is over 95%. This speaks to the importance of regular self - exams, early detection and prompt medical attention.

Tangi: That is so encouraging. I guess early detection is the key. All woman need to be more aware of this - especially African - American woman - they've got to get to the doctor earlier. But the next question got on my nerves! I don't think any of them are the right answer.

Moderator: Well, can you lower your chances of developing breast cancer, or does it strike at random?

Tangi: You said earlier only 5-10% was from heredity. So that would suggest it's random.

Moderator: For the 90-95% of women who do not fall the heredity category, it's not clear why breast cancer strikes one woman and not another. But studies do suggest that you can decrease your chances for developing breast cancer by eating right, drinking in moderation and staying active. Leading a healthy lifestyle will not eliminate your risk of serious health problems like breast cancer, but it may reduce your risk. Tangi, true or false, if you're small - breasted, you won't get breast cancer.

Tangi: False!

Moderator: Right! size is totally irrelevant. Holly, true or false, if you have a lump in your breast that is painful, it's a cyst and it's not breast cancer.

Holly: True!

Moderator: No, false. A lump can be painful and still be cancer. If you develop any lump in your breast, have it checked right away. Alyson, most women diagnosed with breast cancer are over age 50.

Alyson: True.

Moderator: Correct. The vast majority of cases involve women aged 50 plus. Last quest, for all of you: Mammograms can detect breast cancer before a lump can be felt.

In unison: True!

Moderator: You're all correct. That's why mammograms are so very important. You may feel healthy and still have breast cancer. Thanks for helping to educate millions of women. I encourage you to give this test to your friends and family. And now that you know all the answers, you can keep score.