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The number of women under 50 diagnosed with breast cancer each year in the UK has exceeded 10,000 for the first time
New statistics from Cancer Research UK has shown that 10,068 women under the age of 50 were diagnosed with breast cancer in the UK in 2010. This was the first time the figure had exceeded 10,000 and represents an 11 per cent increase since 1995, when the number of diagnosed in the same age group was 7,712.
This rise in younger patients developing breast cancer contributed to an overall increase in diagnosis rates among women of all ages. The total number of women diagnosed each year is now approaching 50,000.
The reasons for the increasing rates of breast cancer in this group are not clear, but it’s thought that increasing alcohol intake and hormonal factors such as having fewer children, having them later in life and increased use of the contraceptive pill may be playing a role.
However, the statistics also show that fewer women under 50 than ever before are dying from the disease. In the early 1990s, the mortality rate from breast cancer in women under the age of 50 was nine per 100,000 women in the UK. By late 2000, this had fallen to 5 in every 100,000. More than eight in 10 women diagnosed with breast cancer before the age of 50 now survive their disease for at least five years. This is thought to be due to better treatment.
Sara Hiom, Cancer Research UK’s director of health information, said: “Breast cancer is more common in older women but these figures show that younger women are also at risk of developing the disease. Women of all ages who notice anything different about their breasts, including changes in size, shape or feel, a lump or thickening, nipple discharge or rash, dimpling, puckering or redness of the skin, should see their GP straight away, even if they have attended breast cancer screening. It’s more likely not to be cancer but if it is, detecting it early gives the best chance of successful treatment.
“The number of cases in women under 50 diagnosed with breast cancer is increasing slowly, but thanks to research, awareness and improved care more women than ever before are surviving the disease”.
Tara Beaumont, Clinical Nurse Specialist at Breast Cancer Care said: “The increasing incidence of breast cancer in women under 50 reflects the growing incidence overall.
“Though it is not fully understood why the rates of breast cancer in this age group are rising, it is extremely encouraging to see a continuation of the downward trend in breast cancer mortality.”
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