Orlando, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — There are 31 million women living in the United States with a history of breast cancer. Of those women, 250 thousand were diagnosed when they were younger than 40.
A family history and age are the most significant risks factor when it comes to breast cancer.
“The prime demographic for women for getting breast cancer is typically between the ages of 50 and 70,” Thomas Samuel, MD a breast oncologist at Cleveland Clinic Florida, told Ivanhoe.
But still 1,000 women under 40 die from breast cancer every year and there’s no effective breast cancer screening tool for women under 40. Mammograms are not an effective screening tool for women under 40 because the breast tissue is too dense. So experts recommend women 20 and older perform monthly breast self-examinations the day after their period ends.
“We also do recommend women to have a physician breast exam beginning or the end around age 25 on an annual bases and typically a primary care doctor or a gynecologist would be the ones who do that,” continued Dr. Samuel.
Some other things to note for breast cancer in younger women: breast cancer tends to be found in later stages and be more aggressive. Younger women also have a higher mortality rate when it comes to breast cancer and the risk of metastatic recurrence is higher. Even though breast cancer is still more prevalent in an older demographic, that does not mean it’s not impossible in younger women.
Breast cancer is also the most common form of cancer diagnosed in pregnant women or women who have recently given birth. About 30 percent of breast cancer in young women is found a few years after having a child.
Contributors to this news report include: Milvionne Chery, Producer; Roque Correa, Editor.
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BREAST CANCER KILLS YOUNG WOMEN, TOO
BACKGROUND: Breast cancer is an uncontrolled growth of breast cells. It usually begins in either the cells of the lobules (the milk-producing glands) or the ducts (the passages that drain milk from the lobules to the nipple). It can also begin in the stromal tissues, which include the fatty and fibrous connective tissues of the breast. Over time, cancer cells can invade nearby healthy breast tissue and make their way into the underarm lymph nodes, giving them a pathway into other parts of the body. The stage of breast cancer refers to how far the cancer cells have spread beyond the original tumor. Breast cancer is usually caused by genetic abnormalities that happen as a result of the aging process and the wear and tear of life. 5 to 10% of cancers are due to an abnormality inherited from the parents. While the risk of getting breast cancer cannot be eliminated, steps to help prevent cancer include eating a balanced diet, maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking, limiting alcohol, and exercising regularly.
TREATMENT: Breast cancer is made up of different kinds of cancer cells so getting rid of all the cells can require different types of treatment. Local treatments target the tumor without affecting the rest of the body. Most breast cancer patients will have some type of surgery to remove the tumor, and some patients may require radiation. Breast cancer drugs such as chemotherapy are considered systemic therapies because they can reach cancer cells almost anywhere in the body. These include hormone therapy, which is used to treat breast cancers that utilize estrogen to help them spread and grow. There are also drugs designed to block the growth and spread of cancer cells, in contrast to chemo drugs which attack all cells that are growing quickly. Patients may be interested in working with plastic surgeons or taking part in a clinical trial as well.
DETECTING EARLY BREAST CANCER: A recent study reports MRI scans twice a year instead of one annual mammogram are more effective at detecting early breast cancers in young women with a high-risk genetic profile. The majority of the participants did not develop breast cancer, despite the fact that most of them had genetic mutations. Researchers say annual mammography did not demonstrate a screening benefit when performed along with bi-annual MRI screening. The study included women who had been diagnosed with breast cancer before age 35 and women who had a mother or sister diagnosed with breast cancer before age 50 (before 40 for those of African ancestry). Out of the 295 women enrolled, 17 cancers were detected, all of which were smaller than a centimeter. The 17 patients who developed cancer were followed continuously for a median of 5.3 years and all are alive and free of systemic disease. Patient anxiety levels decreased over time and patients reported improved quality of life. Mammograms will remain important for most women, but they can be eliminated for women at high risk who are getting an MRI every six months.
* For More Information, Contact:
Arlene Allen, Media Relations
Cleveland Clinic Florida