Young Women See Rising Breast Cancer Rates

There has been a small rise in the incidence of advanced stage breast cancer among women aged 25 to 39 years of age. This according to a recent study published in JAMA. Breast cancer is the most common form of tumor malignancy in women aged 15 to 39 and accounts for nearly 14% of all cancer cases in men and women in that age group.

The study authors wrote that, "Young women with breast cancer tend to experience more aggressive disease than older women and have lower survival rates. Given the effect of the disease in young people and a clinical impression that more young women are being diagnosed with advanced disease, we reviewed the national trends in breast cancer incidence in the United States."

The study involved examining three U.S. National Cancer Institute Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results registries from 1973 – 2009. Leader of the study, Rebecca Johnson and her colleagues obtained information from the registries regarding the incidence of breast cancer, any incidence trends, the survival rate as a function of age, and the progression of the cancer at diagnosis.

During the prior three to four decades, the incidence of distant breast cancer in young women between the ages of 25 to 39 has risen steadily, from a rate of 1.53 per 100,000 in 1976 to 2.90 per 100,000 in 2009, This difference translates to a yearly increase in incidence of 2.07 percent per year.

The authors added that, "The trajectory of the incidence trend predicts that an increasing number of young women in the United States will present with metastatic breast cancer in an age group that already has the worst prognosis, no recommended routine screening practice, the least health insurance, and the most potential years of life."

The rising incidence of distant cancer was greatest among women between the age of 25 to 34 and become progressively smaller in women as they aged, by 5-year age intervals. There was no real elevation in the incidence of distant breast cancer in women over the age of 55.

This finding is especially concerning when considering that young women between the ages of 20 to 34 who develop breast cancer, have the lowest 5-year survival rate as a function of age.

Young women who are diagnosed with breast cancer often face a feeling of isolation, considering that most medical resources for the disease are designed for women over 50. In addition, a study in the Journal of National Cancer Institute found that health-related quality of life is far lower in young women with breast cancer. They often face struggles with weight gain, elevated psychological distress, and early onset of menopause.


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