More women are being diagnosed with advanced breast cancer at an early age. A New study in the Journal of the American Medical Association finds a small but significant increase in advanced breast cancer among women in their 20's and 30's. Researchers found the rate has gone up each year since 1976. "Ideally you would like to see that number go down and not go up," says Dr. Stephanie Bernik at the Lenox Hill Hospital.
Young women with breast cancer tend to have more aggressive forms of the disease than older women and have lower survival rates. 230,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer in the United States every year, 11,000 are under the age of 40. There are no routine screening practices recommended for that age group.
Experts say younger women usually don't know something is wrong until they can actually feel a lump -- a sign that the tumor is advanced. Women really have to pay attention to what's going on on their physical exam. If they happen to feel a mass, they should not ignore it, they should bring it to the doctor's attention. Researchers say more studies need to be done to figure out why the numbers are going up.
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