A 50 percent increase in breast cancer by 2030?
New research suggests that the number of breast cancer cases could increase 50 percent by 2030.
There were 283,000 breast cancer diagnoses in 2011, and researchers anticipate that will rise to about 441,000 in the next 15 years, according to the National Cancer Institute. The increase is expected to be primarily caused by two factors — the aging population and increased screening that enables doctors to detect breast cancer in its earliest stages.
Researchers also estimate an increase of between 24 and 35 percent in breast cancer diagnoses of women 70 to 84 years old by 2030. About 3.82 percent of 70-year-old women will develop breast cancer, while the cancer only affects about .44 percent of 30-year-olds.
“As women live longer, their risk for developing breast cancer increases,” says Dr. Rosalinda Alvarado, breast surgeon at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center’s Creticos Cancer Center in Chicago.
As screening technology continues to advance, and more women get regular screening mammograms, the researchers also predict that the amount of estrogen-receptor positive (ER-positive) in-situ cancers — or early-stage tumors that have not spread to other parts of the body — will increase from 19 percent of breast cancer diagnoses to about 29 percent.
“Historically, women with ER-positive breast cancer have a very favorable prognosis compared to those who have ER-negative breast cancer or present at more advanced stages of the disease,” Dr. Alvarado says.
ER-negative breast cancers — those in which tumor growth is not promoted by estrogen — are expected to decrease from 17 percent to 9 percent of breast cancer diagnoses. While the exact reason for this decline is unclear, there’s a possible connection to more women choosing to have children later in life and an increased number of women choosing to breastfeed.
“Our results suggest that although breast cancer overall is going to increase, different subtypes of breast cancer are moving in different directions and on different trajectories,” said Philip S. Rosenberg, PhD, senior cancer epidemiology and genetics investigator at the NCI, in a news release. “These distinct patterns within the overall breast cancer picture highlight key research opportunities that could inform smarter screening and kinder, gentler and more effective treatment.”
The findings highlight the importance of screening mammography, with experts recommending annual mammograms for women starting at age 40.
Women with certain risk factors, such as those with a family history of breast cancer, may need earlier or more frequent screening, says Dr. Alvardo.
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