Breast Cancer in Young Women
The headlines are very frightening: a recent study found that the incidence of advanced breast cancer at first diagnosis (meaning that the woman already has metastatic disease when the cancer is first found) has gone up a great deal in young women. The numbers are also scary: between 1967 and 2001, the numbers of women so affected in the United States jumped from 250 to 850 each year. If you account for the increase in population, it becomes a bit less bad: between 1967 and 2009, the rate doubled from 1.5 women per 100,000 to 3 women per 100,000.
The first fact to remember is that this has nothing at all to do with prognosis of young women diagnosed with earlier stage breast cancer. It does not mean that their cancers are more likely to recur. Another fact to remember is that the rate of advanced breast cancer at initial diagnosis has also gone up for older women. I have been trying to find that number for year, but have not been able to do so. Just within my own practice, however, I probably meet at least one woman every three to four weeks in this situation, and that is surely an increase.
I am not trying to make anything good out of this fact, just to remind us all that the media's hype can make things seem even worse than they actually are. Here is a good and balanced report from Web MD; I give you the beginning and a link to read more:
Article Link: http://www.webmd.com/breast-cancer/news/20130228/breast-cancer-young-women?src=rss_public
Q&A: Breast Cancer in Young Women
By Kathleen Doheny
By Kathleen Doheny
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD
Feb. 28, 2013 -- Young women found the news surprising and more than a little scary: Cases of advanced breast cancer have been rising in women 25 to 39 over the past three decades, researchers reported this week.
From 1976 to 2009, the number of cases of advanced breast cancer in younger women at the time of diagnosis increased, the researchers found, from 250 a year to 850 a year.
Although those numbers sound scary, you have to take into account that the population of young women grew in that time period. When you look at the percentage of new cases, the increase is small and shows they nearly doubled: from 1.5 of every 100,000 younger women in 1976 to about 3 per 100,000 in 2009.