The increase was seen in women ages 25 to 39 of all races and ethnicities, living in both rural and urban areas. The finding is alarming because a woman diagnosed at a young age is more likely to have an aggressive form of the disease and face lower survival rates.
Researchers looked at cancer rates from data collected by the National Cancer Institute. They found advanced stage breast cancer rates increased an average of 2 percent every year from 1976 to 2009 in women under age 40. This means that the numbers have jumped from about 250 cases each year in the mid ’70s to about 850 cases in recent years.
Experts aren’t sure what’s driving these increases or why they don’t see similar numbers for older women or younger women with earlier stage breast cancer.
They also say it’s important for women to know their body and to pay attention if they notice any changes.
See your doctor if you find a lump or have swelling in the breast, discharge from the nipple, redness in the skin of the breast, unexplained breast pain, or general body fatigue.