New research from the University of Iowa College of Public Health documents important differences in breast cancer incidence and survival based on cancer subtype among young women.
The study, led by UI professor in epidemiology Dr. Paul Romitti, found certain subtypes – particularly hormone receptor-positive (HR-positive) high-grade cancer – are increasing and associated with reduced 10-year survival among young women. HR-positive cancer contains proteins that allow estrogen and progesterone hormones to attach, fueling cancer growth. High-grade compared to low-grade cancer cells tend to grow and spread more quickly.
Dr. Romitti notes the new research has important clinical implications. Younger women more frequently experience care delays due to a variety of circumstances, such as lack of screening and less access to care. In addition, younger women’s dense breast tissue makes radiographic detection of cancer more difficult. As a result, their cancer may be diagnosed at a later stage. Most current breast cancer screening guidelines recommend starting mammography screening at age 40 or 50 for women with average breast cancer risk.
Dr. Romitti adds “We hope these findings will guide further evaluation of preventive, diagnostic, and therapeutic strategies for breast cancer among premenopausal women.”
The study was published in the September issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute Cancer Spectrum. In addition to Dr. Romitti, other University of Iowa investigators include Anthony Rhoads, Elizabeth Pinkerton, Mary Schroeder, Kristin Conway, Jacob Oleson, and Charles Lynch. The research team also included Lacey McNally from Wake Forest University and William Hundley from Virginia Commonwealth University.
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