This morning, at Cancer Australia’s 2015 Pink Ribbon Breakfast, Cancer Australia CEO Professor Helen Zorbas released first-of-its-kind research from a study about breast cancer in young women aged 20-39 years.
The concerning findings, listed in the attached media release, reveal that 795 women aged 20-39 years are expected to be diagnosed with breast cancer this year, and one woman aged 20 -39 will die from breast cancer every week. The report shows that while the number of young women being diagnosed has reduced, women in their 20s and 30s have less chance of survival than older women, as the cancer is often more aggressive. Younger women diagnosed can also experience feelings of isolation, as there are not as many people going through the same experience, as well as early menopause and infertility from treatment. These issues often impact the rest of their lives.
Unfortunately, mammograms do not work well at detecting cancer in younger breasts, so the best method of early detection of breast cancer in young women is through breast awareness. Cancer Australia is calling on young women to familiarise themselves with their breasts and to know when there is a change that doesn’t seem right, such as shape, size, lumpiness, nipple changes, redness/dimpling on breast or unusual pain.
We would love your help to spread the word about breast cancer in women aged 20-39 and to call on young women to get to know their breasts and be aware of any change that doesn’t seem right.
Media Release: First-of-its-kind report provides picture of breast cancer in young Australian women
A report released today by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) for the first time presents information and statistics about breast cancer in young women aged 20–39 years.
The report, Breast cancer in young women: Key facts about breast cancer in women in their 20s and 30s, was launched this morning at Cancer Australia’s annual Pink Ribbon Breakfast, in Sydney.
‘In 2015, it is projected that 795 young women will be diagnosed with breast cancer, and 65 will die from it, which is an average of 2 diagnoses a day and 1 death a week,’ said AIHW spokesperson Justin Harvey.
In 2007–11, women aged 20–39 had an 88% chance of surviving for five years after diagnosis, compared to the 90% survival rate for women aged 40 and over. This is an improvement from 1982–1986, when five-year survival for this age group was 72%.
‘When looking at breast cancer in young women, we see a higher proportion of very large breast cancers (>=50mm) diagnosed (8%) than in older women (6%). Very large breast cancers are associated with lower survival than small breast cancers (<15mm)’ Mr Harvey said.
However, even for small breast cancers—which tend to be associated with more treatment options and improved survival—young women have lower survival (93%) than women aged 40 and over (99%).
Cancer Australia CEO Professor Helen Zorbas has welcomed today’s report, saying ‘Although the number of young women diagnosed with breast cancer has increased over time, the incidence rate has remained stable over the past three decades’.
‘These young women are at a life stage in which they are building careers, establishing relationships and planning for a family. Issues such as infertility, early menopause and body image as well as time away from work and family can have a substantial impact, with long term physical, psychological and social effects’.
‘This report informs our understanding of the impact of breast cancer among young women at a national level, and supports our work in improving survival outcomes and addressing psychosocial issues specific to young women.’
The AIHW is a major national agency set up by the Australian Government to provide reliable, regular and relevant information and statistics on Australia’s health and welfare.
Cancer Australia was established by the Australian Government to provide national leadership in cancer control, and aims to reduce the impact of cancer, address disparities and improve outcomes for people affected by cancer across the continuum of care.
Mr Justin Harvey, AIHW, mob. 0450 677 562; Elizabeth Ingram, AIHW, mob. 0431 871 337
Professor Helen Zorbas, Cancer Australia, tel. 02 9357 9401, mob. 0438 209 833