If Im 70 Or Older Will Invasive Breast Cancer Be Fatal
Though a cancer diagnosis is scary at any age, older adults may feel more vulnerable. But Tran says there are reasons not to panic.
In patients 70 years old or older, most of the time, the invasive cancer is hormone receptor positive, which means it is a slower-growing cancer.
Most patients treated for invasive breast cancer survive, she says. Even when you are diagnosed at an older age, you can successfully complete your therapy, go on living and eventually die from causes other than breast cancer.
This is especially true for those who are in good general health at the time of their diagnosis and who are able to care for themselves.
Age At Diagnosis And Mortality Rates
In the past younger women tended to have a poorer prognosis.
One medical study examined 4,453 women with breast cancer over a 30 year period, all treated at the same center. The study showed that in general, women under the age of 40 years had a statistically poorer prognosis.
Furthermore, older ladies, over the age of 80 years at diagnosis also had a poorer prognosis.
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Breast Cancer Stats In Australia
Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Australia. Approximately 55 Australians are diagnosed each and every day. That equates to over 20,000 Australians diagnosed with breast cancer each year.
1 in 7 women are diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime.
About 1 in 700 men are diagnosed in their lifetime.
In 2021, over 3000 Australians passed away from breast cancer including 36 males and 3102 females.
Thats 9 Australians a day dying from the disease.
In the last 10 years, breast cancer diagnosis have increased by 36%.
Since the National Breast Cancer Foundation started funding in 1994, the five-year survival rates have improved from 76% to 91%.
Weve come a long way. But theres still progress to be made.
Thats why were committed to funding a broad spectrum of research to help understand risk factors, develop new ways to detect and treat breast cancer, improve quality of life for breast cancer patients, improve treatment outcomes and ultimately save lives.
Our mission: Zero Deaths from breast cancer by 2030.
The risk of a woman being diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime is 1 in 7. The majority of breast cancer cases, about 80%, occur in women over the age of 50.
But breast cancer still occurs in young women, with close to 1000 women under the age of 40 projected to be diagnosed with the disease in 2021.
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Younger Age At Menarche
Breast cancer risk increases by 5% for each year younger at menarche , a meta-analysis has shown. The association is stronger for oestrogen receptor -positive and progesterone receptor -positive tumours than for ER- and PR-negative tumours. Breast cancer risk may be higher in women whose breast development started at a younger age, a cohort study indicates.
Among BRCA1 mutation carriers too, breast cancer risk may be higher in those who are younger at menarche, a meta-analysis showed among BRCA2 carriers, breast cancer risk is not associated with age at menarche.
What Is The Risk For Breast Cancer Recurrence
The risk of recurrence depends on the type of breast cancer and its stage. Timing matters, too: The highest risk of recurrence for breast cancer patients is during the first few years after treatment.
At the Johns Hopkins Breast Center, our team of breast cancer specialists monitors patients who are at risk of recurrence, Lange explains. The follow-up schedule depends on the stage of cancer, what kind of treatment has been received and prognostic factors. The risk of recurrence decreases as time goes on, but never gets down to zero.
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Brca1 And Brca2 Gene Mutations
The two most common major breast cancer predisposition genes are called BRCA1 and BRCA2. In inherited cases of breast cancer, there is a mutation in these genes that creates a higher risk of breast cancer.
BRCA gene mutations only affect less than 1% of the general population although there are other rarer gene mutations too.
However, as you can see from our bar chart above, the risk of breast cancer with BRCA1 gene affected can be up to 87%.
However, the average risk according to the National Cancer Institute is around 55% to 65% of developing breast cancer by the age of 70 years. BRCA 2 mutations carry a lower risk of about 45%.
Fact #: You Can Lower Your Risk Of Breast Cancer
Regular screenings appropriate for your risk level is the number one way to reduce your risk of breast cancer. Other ways to lower your risk are:
Maintain a healthy weight. Data show that weight gain as an adult is linked with a higher rate of breast cancer. Exercise regularly. Reduce alcohol consumption. The ACS recommends no more than one alcoholic drink per day for women and no more than two drinks per day for men.
Learn more about breast cancer care at NewYork-Presbyterian.
Luona Sun, M.D. , is a board-certified breast surgeon at NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center and an assistant professor of surgery at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons. She is trained in minimally invasive nipple sparing mastectomy, skin sparing mastectomy, intraoperative radiation therapy, and various frontline localization skills. Dr. Sun is also an active researcher, focusing on rare diagnoses like small cell carcinoma in breast cancer and high-risk lesion management in patients with coexisting cancer. One of her major research interests is in Asian American breast cancer disparities.
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Risk Of Breast Cancer By Age
A womans risk of developing breast cancer based on her age is as follows:
- 30 years old: 0.49% or 1 in 204
- 40 years old: 1.55% or 1 in 65
- 50 years old: 2.4% or 1 in 42
- 60 years old: 3.54% or 1 in 28
- 70 years old: 4.09% or 1 in 24
About 5% of breast cancer cases occur in women under 40 years old. It may be more difficult to diagnose breast cancer in young women because their breast tissue is denser than that of older women. Young women and their doctors may also be more likely to ignore a breast lump because of their low risk.
Breast cancer that occurs in young women tends to be more aggressive and less likely to respond to treatment. Women who are diagnosed with breast cancer before age 40 are more likely to have a genetic mutation that puts them at higher risk. Screening for the BRCA gene mutation may begin at age 25.
Other signs for young women to be aware of include:
- A lump in the breast
- Nipple discharge
- Focal pain
- Skin changes on the breast
Mammogram screening is recommended to begin between ages 40 and 50 based on your individual risk factors.
What Are The Risk Factors Of Breast Cancer
Risk factors for breast cancer are either modifiable or unmodifiable, and may include the following:
- Age: The risk of breast cancer increases with old age.
- Family history: Higher risk for women who have a mother, sister, or a first-degree relative diagnosed with breast cancer.
- Genes:Inherited mutations to BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes make a woman more vulnerable.
- Previous medical history: Women who have had breast cancer removed or treated previously are more prone to develop it the second time.
- Reproductive history: Early menarche and late menopause raises the risk of breast cancer due to longer hormonal exposure.
- Dense breasts: Women with dense breasts have a higher risk.
- History of radiation therapy:Radiation exposure before age of 30 years raises the risk of breast cancer in later life.
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Menstrual And Reproductive History
Starting menstrual periods at a younger age or going through menopause at a later age raises the bodys exposure to these hormones, which can increase a persons risk of breast cancer.
Those who start their menstrual period before the
to prevent miscarriage. Women who took this drug while pregnant and any children they gave birth to have a slightly higher risk of breast cancer.
Race And Ethnicity And Breast Cancer Risk
The risk of breast cancer incidence and mortality does vary according to different ethnic and racial groups. We can see the risk for each different racial group on our bar chart above.
In general, white women are more likely to develop breast cancer. However, there are many factors involved in breast cancer risk factors and race.
We have a whole new post on Incidence and Mortality Rates by Race.
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Is There A Relationship Between Pregnancy And Breast Cancer Risk
Studies have shown that a womans risk of developing breast cancer is related to her exposure to hormones that are produced by her ovaries . Reproductive factors that increase the duration and/or levels of exposure to ovarian hormones, which stimulate cell growth, have been associated with an increase in breast cancer risk. These factors include early onset of menstruation, late onset of menopause, and factors that may allow breasttissue to be exposed to high levels of hormones for longer periods of time, such as later age at first pregnancy and never having given birth.
Conversely, pregnancy and breastfeeding, which both reduce a womans lifetime number of menstrual cycles, and thus her cumulative exposure to endogenous hormones , are associated with a decrease in breast cancer risk. In addition, pregnancy and breastfeeding have direct effects on breast cells, causing them to differentiate, or mature, so they can produce milk. Some researchers hypothesize that these differentiated cells are more resistant to becoming transformed into cancer cells than cells that have not undergone differentiation .
Radiation To Chest Or Face Before Age 30
If you had radiation to the chest to treat another cancer , such as Hodgkin’s disease or non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, you may have an increased risk of breast cancer. If you had radiation to the face as an adolescent to treat acne, you may have an increased risk of developing breast cancer. A breast cancer risk expert can help you determine whether your risk is increased and what options you might have to reduce your risk.
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Being Overweight Or Obese
Women who are overweight after their menopause have a higher risk of breast cancer than women who are not overweight. Men also have an increased risk of breast cancer if they are overweight or obese. For both men and women, the risk increases as more weight is gained.
Body mass index is a measure that uses your height and weight to work out whether you are a healthy weight. For most adults, an ideal is between 18.5 to 24.9. Being overweight means having a BMI of between 25 and 30. Obesity means being very overweight with a BMI of 30 or higher.
Try to keep a healthy weight by being physically active and eating a healthy, balanced diet.
Drinking alcohol increases the risk of breast cancer in women. The risk increases with each extra unit of alcohol per day. The number of units in a drink depends on the size of the drink, and the volume of alcohol.
The latest UK government guidelines advise drinking no more than 14 units of alcohol a week.
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Breast Cancer In Children
Breast cancer may cause any of the following signs. Check with your childs doctor if your child has any of the following:
- A lump or thickening in or near the breast or in the underarm area.
- A change in the size or shape of the breast.
- A dimple or puckering in the skin of the breast.
- A nipple turned inward into the breast.
- Scaly, red, or swollen skin on the breast, nipple, or areola .
- Dimples in the breast that look like the skin of an orange, called peau dorange.
Other conditions that are not breast cancer may cause these same signs.
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Risks For Breast Cancer
A risk factor is something that increases the risk of developing cancer. It could be a behaviour, substance or condition. Most cancers are the result of many risk factors. But sometimes breast cancer develops in women who dont have any of the risk factors described below.
Most breast cancers occur in women. The main reason women develop breast cancer is because their breast cells are exposed to the female hormones estrogen and progesterone. These hormones, especially estrogen, are linked with breast cancer and encourage the growth of some breast cancers.
Breast cancer is more common in high-income, developed countries such as Canada, the United States and some European countries. The risk of developing breast cancer increases with age. Breast cancer mostly occurs in women between 50 and 69 years of age.
Breast Size And Body Weight In Relation To Breast Cancer
The simple truth is that there have been no large, peer-reviewed studies that support breast size as a factor in the development of breast cancer. While there has been some research suggesting a link, there have been just as many which have drawn the opposite conclusion.
With that being said, we do know that obesity plays a significant role in the development of breast cancer and that obese women typically have larger breasts than the average woman. So while this might suggest that big-breasted women are at risk, it appears that weight is more of a factor than actual breast size.
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How Has The Risk Of Being Diagnosed With Breast Cancer Changed In Recent Years
For a woman born in the 1970s in the United States, the lifetime risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer, based on breast cancer statistics from that time, was just under 10% .
The last five annual SEER Cancer Statistics Review reports show the following estimates of lifetime risk of breast cancer, all very close to a lifetime risk of 1 in 8:
- 12.83%, based on statistics for 2014 through 2016
- 12.44%, based on statistics for 2013 through 2015
- 12.41%, based on statistics for 2012 through 2014
- 12.43%, based on statistics for 2011 through 2013
- 12.32%, based on statistics for 2010 through 2012
SEER statisticians expect some variability from year to year. Slight changes may be explained by a variety of factors, including minor changes in risk factor levels in the population, slight changes in breast cancer screening rates, or just random variability inherent in the data.
Howlader N, Noone AM, Krapcho M, et al. . SEER Cancer Statistics Review, 19752017, National Cancer Institute. Bethesda, MD, , based on November 2019 SEER data submission, posted to the SEER web site, April 2020.
- Reviewed:December 16, 2020
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Hormones: Menarche And Menopause
The age at which a young girl starts her periods and the age of menopause can both affect the risk of breast cancer.
A 2012collaborative study found that breast cancer risk increased by 1.050 for every year younger at menarche. The risk for every year older at menopause was less at 1.029.
In general, younger age of menarche and older age at menopause increases the risk of breast cancer due to prolonged hormone exposure.
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What Is The Prognosis For Men With Breast Cancer
It depends on the kind, stage, and type of breast cancer. In general, when male breast cancer is detected at an early stage, men have a similar chance of recovery as women with breast cancer.
However, breast cancer is often diagnosed in men at a later stage because many may not routinely examine their breasts, arent aware that breast cancer can occur in men, or are embarrassed about having a breast-related complaint, says Dr. Andrejeva-Wright.
Later detection of breast cancer means the cancer is harder to cure and may have spread to other areas of the body, such as the lymph nodes.
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How Does Age Affect A Womans Risk Of Breast Cancer And What Can She Do About It
City Of Hope Orange CountyWade Smith, M.D.Linda Buck, N.PWhy are older women more at risk for breast cancer? Smith:Are there lifestyle changes or preventive steps that older women can take to reduce their breast cancer risk?Buck:Does breast density affect breast cancer risk? Smith:Do breast cancer screening recommendations change based on age?Smith:
- Self-check. A monthly self-exam of your breasts can help you identify concerning changes.
- Clinical exam. For most women starting at age 20, your physician will perform a physical exam of your breasts once a year during your well woman visit.
- Ultrasound. Breast ultrasound uses sound waves to produce images of the structure of the breast. It can be used as an alternative to or in conjunction with a mammogram.
- MRI. An MRI creates images of the breast using a magnetic field, and like an ultrasound it can be used instead of or in addition to a mammogram to screen for breast cancer.
- Genetic testing. If you have a family history of breast cancer, your doctor may recommend genetic testing. This will help determine if you have a genetic mutation that elevates the risk of breast cancer.
Hope is growing at . Our new in Huntington Beach, Newport Beach Lido and Irvine Sand Canyon join City of Hope Newport Beach Fashion Island to form a four-location network of highly specialized cancer care. To make an appointment at any of our four Orange County locations, or call:
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