With doctors reporting that more young women are being diagnosed with breast cancer than ever before, the experts at Burzynski Clinic are anxious to find out why. The increase is not enormous, explain Burzynski Clinic doctors, but it is nonetheless significant in a group of people who rarely develop cancer at all. The groups of women most affected by the increase in cases of breast cancer are those in the 25 to 34 age group. The news is particularly concerning because typically in women this young, breast cancer tends to be more aggressive. There is also no effective screening method for young women.
Unfortunately, breast cancer in younger women tends to grow and spread faster, and is more difficult to treat effectively. If the cancer has not spread, the five-year survival rate for breast cancer is 93 percent, but for women under 40 if it has spread, that rate drops to 31 percent.
A recent study examined whether cancer rates differed in young adults compared to older adults. The study looked at over three decades’ worth of data from the National Cancer Institute and organized it by factors such as age and ethnic group. A steady increase was revealed in breast cancer rates among 25- to 39-year-old women beginning in 1976. The results of the study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, showed that the rate of breast cancer increased from 1.53 per 100,000 women in 1976 to 2.9 per 100,000 in 2009. That may be just a 2 percent increase, say Burzynski Clinic representatives, but it is appears to be continuing to rise. The study also revealed a tripled incidence of metastatic breast cancers in young women during the span of the study.
Burzynski Clinic and Other Researchers Concerned about Causes
What the study did not reveal, point out doctors at the Burzynski Clinic, is the reason for the increase. Improved screening methods can be ruled out, because younger women are not generally screened for breast cancer. However, the rise in breast cancer rates among young women suggests that perhaps this should not be the case. The latest government recommendation from the United States Preventative Services Task Force is for women to begin getting mammograms every other year starting at age 50. However, another study that shows that among younger women who died of breast cancer between 1990 and 1999, a large percent had never had a mammogram before they were diagnosed. For this and other reasons, the American Cancer Society advises women to seek annual mammograms beginning at age 40.
One factor that probably merits more study is obesity. Some studies have shown a possible link between breast cancer and a combination of obesity, a sedentary lifestyle, and overeating, making this an area that is likely to be studied more. Mechanisms that might explain the link between obesity and breast cancer include excess estrogen production by fatty tissue, increased insulin levels, cell-inhibiting or cell-stimulating hormones produced by fat cells, and chronic low-level inflammation often found in obese people.
Other possible causes include chemicals or viruses. For example, it is known that cervical cancer and head and neck cancer are caused by viruses, so it’s possible there could be a yet-uncovered link between viruses and breast cancer. Another possible factor is putting off having children until later, because women who have children at younger ages cut their risk of breast cancer in half.
Young cancer patients also show high rates of other cancers, not just breast cancer. Leukemia, for example, is also on the rise and known to be caused by chemotherapy and radiation treatments. Young cancer patients are also at a higher risk for heart disease.
After lung cancer, say Burzynski Clinic experts, breast cancer is the most deadly form of cancer in women. Of the 235,000 women (and men) diagnosed with breast cancer this year, 40,000 will die, according to the American Cancer Society.
At this time, about one out of every eight cases of invasive breast cancer occur in women who are under 45. Less than 1 percent of 30-year-old women will develop breast cancer, and 4 percent of women will be diagnosed by age 70. These numbers show a risk that increases with age. According to the CDC, 35 out of 1,000 60-year-old women will be diagnosed with breast cancer over the next ten years.
The good news, explain Burzynski Clinic doctors, is that despite the increase in incidence of breast cancer in younger women, the mortality rates are actually lower. That can probably be attributed to modernized, more effective treatment methods. Viable treatments include surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, and new “smart bomb” drugs. Cancer treatments can have some negative side effects, though, so research in this area is ongoing. Many cancer specialists like the ones at Burzynski Clinic are dedicated to developing newer and better cancer technologies.
Burzynski Clinic is a cancer treatment center located in Houston, Texas. Founded by Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski in 1977, the center is dedicated to studying gene-focused cancer treatments. By looking at cancer “outside the box,” they are committed to developing specialized, personalized treatment plans that impact an individual’s genes.