It’s a small, though growing, trend
New cases of advanced breast cancer are increasing among women ages 25 to 39, according to a study published earlier this year. This finding is troubling because breast cancer in younger women tends to be more aggressive and has lower survival rates than the disease in older women.
In the study, researchers found that cases of advanced breast cancer in younger women increased from 1.53 per 100,000 women in 1976 to 2.9 per 100,000 women in 2009. The numbers are small, but it’s a trend that is gaining speed, says Rebecca Johnson, M.D., of Seattle Children’s Hospital and author of the study.
Despite the increase, the chances of a young woman developing advanced breast cancer are still low, with only 1 in 173 American women contracting the disease before age 40.
“The message is young women can and do get breast cancer,” Dr. Johnson says. “Women need to be aware that breast cancer can happen in this young population and act promptly if they find a lump or have other symptoms.”
Women in their 20s and 30s should have breast exams by a health care professional every 3 years, according to American Cancer Society guidelines.