Women, ages 25 to 39, are at a slightly-increased risk for breast cancer, according to a new study released by the Journal of the American Medical Association on Tuesday. The researchers examined cancer statistics on 28 percent of the American population and based their findings on information from over 900,000 women that were diagnosed with breast cancer from 1976 to 2009.
The study found that “advanced cases climbed to 2.9 per 100,000 younger women in 2009, from 1.53 per 100,000 women in 1976 — an increase of 1.37 cases per 100,000 women in 34 years. The totals were about 250 such cases per year in the mid-1970s, and more than 800 per year in 2009,” according to the New York Times.
The researchers note that though the increases are minimal, they are problematic because some of these cancers spread to other organs, which increases fatality. Some oncology experts are torn on this new development.
Dr. Donald A. Berry, professor of biostatistics at the University of Texas’ M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, told the New York Times that he’s uncertain about what the finding means. He accounts the increase to more screening and precise tests.
“Not many women aged 25 to 39 get screened, but some do, but it only takes a few to account for a notable increase from one in 100,000,” Dr. Berry told the New York Times.
Dr. Rebecca H. Johnson, the first author of the study and medical director of the adolescent and young adult oncology program at Seattle Children’s Hospital, doesn’t think the results are cause for alarm.
“We’re certainly not advocating that young women get mammography at an earlier age than is generally specified,” she told the New York Times.
But Dr. Johnson, who was diagnosed with breast cancer at 27, also noted that there is no evidence that screening is beneficial to young women that have no symptoms. Despite Dr. Johnson’s assertion, young women should immediately visit a doctor if there are lumps, pains or any other noticeable changes to their breasts.