Evaluated: Breast cancer increasingly affects younger women

Evaluated: Breast cancer increasingly affects younger women

Breast cancer is on the rise worldwide and the sick are getting younger
Breast cancer is common in women. Of all cancers, this type of cancer kills most women. Those affected are getting younger and younger. New research has now found that one in ten younger women shows early signs of breast cancer when they are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Breast cancer is the most common malignant tumor of the mammary gland in humans. Women are particularly at risk from this disease. Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in the western world. New research from Breast Cancer Care showed that one in ten younger women shows the first signs of breast cancer when she is pregnant or breastfeeding.

Breast cancer affects younger pregnant women more and more (Image: SENTELLO / Fotolia.com)

Women only have children later, which is why there are more cancers in pregnant women
Breast cancer is a dangerous disease, especially for women, which often leads to the death of those affected. The likelihood of breast cancer increases with age. However, the number of people under the age of 45 with breast cancer also appears to be increasing, say doctors. Because many women delay their pregnancy in order to start a career, for example, the number of breast cancers increases in pregnant women or afterwards during breastfeeding, the experts add. The average age of newborn mothers is now 30.2 years. In 1970 this value was still around 26.2 years.

Many women notice the first signs of cancer during their pregnancy
The new study examined 496 women who were 45 years old or younger. The subjects had suffered from breast cancer and the doctors tried to determine when the first signs of the cancer had appeared. One in ten women discovered the first signs of illness during pregnancy or breastfeeding, the scientists explain. More than a third of women underwent treatment when their child was five years old or younger. Half of the women who had young children during their diagnosis felt that the treatment had weakened them to such an extent that their child's care suffered, the doctors said. The biggest fear for 66 percent of mothers was not seeing their children grow up.

Cancer risk is increasing in older women
Around 50,000 women in the UK alone are diagnosed with this disease each year. The risk of cancer is strongly age-dependent. Every eighth woman develops breast cancer in the course of her life. Almost half of all cases are aged 65 years or older, the experts say. But one in ten cases affects women under the age of 45. There is a sharp increase in risk in women who have passed their 30s, the researchers explain. By the age of 29, women have a one in 1,950 chance of developing breast cancer. At the age of 39, this probability is already one in 210 and at the age of 49 the probability increases to one in 48, the scientists add.

Pregnant women with breast cancer need more support
If you have a young family, breast cancer diagnosis is devastating, explains Breast Cancer Care's Samia al Qadhi. Many mothers then feel like they are missing out on valuable time with their children because they often go to hospital for treatment or experience debilitating side effects do have. Those affected will never be able to get back the lost time or make up for it. A breast cancer diagnosis during pregnancy or shortly after birth can make some women find it difficult to connect with their baby, the experts explain. The feelings of guilt can be huge and some women feel as if nobody can help them. Therefore, support from such women is crucial. Younger women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer need our support and referral to a specialist, if the disease was diagnosed during pregnancy, the scientists add.

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Video: Signs and Symptoms of Breast Cancer. Dana-Farber Cancer Institute