A Forbes article in 2015 reported that researchers at the National Cancer Institute Project say the number of breast cancer cases will rise 50% to 441,000 cases a year, according to research presented at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research.
Should women be panicking? Maybe not, because the increase has a lot to do with an aging population.
Philip S. Rosenberg, PhD, a senior investigator in the division of cancer epidemiology and genetics at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the lead investigator on the study reported that there are three factors driving the projected increase:
The older women get without dying of something else, the more likely they are to develop breast cancer.
2.The Baby Boom:
There are now a lot more women who are at an age where they are at higher risk for breast cancer.
There are rising rates of a type of breast cancer called estrogen receptor positive breast cancer. The study projects these forward, which attributes to the big jump in the number of cases.
The first two factors are not surprising, although the third one is, it could also be good news. Estrogen receptor negative breast cancer rates are actually going down, and while researchers can’t answer the question why estrogen receptor positive breast cancer could be on the rise, there’s a debate about the extrapolation from current disease rates that the study was based on.
A lot of the cases in Rosenberg’s presentation – about half the increase – were in what is called carcinoma in situ. These are smaller, earlier cancers, and some experts argue that they shouldn’t be considered cancers at all. They may be found by earlier detection, and some researchers worry that there’s actually over treatment – that women are getting treated for in situ tumors that would not have grown or done them any harm. So while at first glance the numbers seem alarming, it’s not a mathematical conclusion, or the epidemic it seems at first glance.
As almost 85% of breast cancers occur in women who have no family history of breast cancer, lifestyle choices are the first step in helping reduce risk including:
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Exercising regularly
- Limiting alcohol consumption
- Eating nutritious food
- Not smoking
(Check out more information at breastcancer.org)