(CBS) - A new report from the American Cancer Society shows how important early detection and treatment of breast cancer is.
The American Cancer Society says the death rate from breast cancer has dropped more than 2-percent a year for the past decade. That means this year alone, 15,000 lives will be saved.
Dr. Freya Schnabel, director of breast surgery at NYU Langone Medical Center says much of the improvement in breast cancer mortality is a result of early detection.
Identifying major risk factors like genetics and taking postmenopausal hormones has also improved the survival rate.
The ACS report estimates 192,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year. As of 2006, 2.5 million women in the US were living with breast cancer. But 40,000 women are expected to die from the disease this year.
The numbers also show a racial disparity. 40-percent more African American women are dying of breast cancer than white women.
Schnabel says there is a suggestion that there may be a more aggressive variant of disease that is seen particularly in young African American women
Still, the latest statistics show death rates are dropping across the board for all women. Experts stress the key to winning the battle against breast cancer is to get an annual mammogram starting at age 40.
To read the full report, log on to the American Cancer Society's website at cancer.org.