More women ages 24-39 are being diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer, a new study released in The Journal of the American Medical Association reports. The study found that from 1976-2009, the incidence of advanced breast cancer in this age group increased 2.1 % per year.
More women ages 24-39 are being diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer, a new study released in The Journal of the American Medical Association reports. The study found that from 1976-2009, the incidence of advanced breast cancer in this age group increased 2.1 % per year. The reason for this slow rise? The researchers aren’t sure but suspect that the rise may be due to genetics, smoking, alcohol intake, or obesity.
This news is disturbing to me as a woman, as a mother, and as a pediatrician. I have watched the age at which physicians are told to start doing routine screening mammograms rise. Some physicians’ groups advocate changing the current age of 40 to begin screening mammograms to age 50. With the new evidence that this study illuminates, this makes me personally uncomfortable.
According to the JAMA study, the current incidence of metastatic breast cancer in women 24-39 rose from 1.5 to 2.9 per 100,000 women during the span of time from 1973-2009. The American Cancer Research Institute cites that one in eight women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime. This show us that the fact remains that breast cancer is much more common in older women than in younger women.
As a pediatrician, I teach the young women in my practice to begin self breast exams at age 17. I want them to get comfortable examining their breast tissue and learn what it feels like. For many women and young girls, breast exams can be tricky. If a woman has fibrocystic disease or particularly fibrous breast tissue, feeling an abnormality can be difficult. Many girls say that all of their breast tissue feels lumpy. If these young women start their breast exams early, they become so familiar with their own tissue, that they can more easily identify an abnormality. Ideally, they should do breast exams once per month around the time of their menstrual cycle.