Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Breast cancer in younger women

"That's a problem because we don't usually screen before age 40 unless you know there are genetics in the family or a strong family history." — Dr. Thomas Julian, director of surgical oncology at Allegheny General Hospital

ADVANCED BREAST CANCER appears to be on the rise in younger women, and experts don't know why.  Here's an article that appeared today on ABC News' MedPage.

By CRYSTAL PHEND, MedPage Today Senior Staff Writer
Feb. 27, 2013

The number of young women being diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer has been slowly but steadily rising over the past 3 decades, a national study found.

The incidence of advanced breast disease among women ages 25 to 39 crept upward by 2.1 percent per year between 1976 and 2009, according to Dr. Rebecca Johnson of Seattle Children's Hospital and the University of Washington in Seattle, and colleagues. The steepest uptick occurred in the most recent era from 2000-2009, during which incidence rose 3.6 percent per year.

The upward trend was not seen among older women in the analysis of the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) database, published in the Feb. 27 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The findings are worrying for 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 researchers pointed out.

Why more young women would be presenting with tumors that have already spread to bone, brain, lungs, or other distant sites isn't clear, they noted.

Rising obesity rates, changes in alcohol and tobacco use, and genetics are possible causes, according to Dr. Thomas Julian, director of surgical oncology at Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh.

Whatever the cause, something needs to be done to find these women at an earlier stage of cancer, he told MedPage Today in an interview.

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