Monday, March 04, 2013

i suspected as much

The headline reads, "Breast cancer among young women increasing" and cites a study conducted out of the Adolescent and Young Adult Oncology program at the Seattle Children's hospital.

I certainly know lots of young women with breast cancer (I worked with several of them but that's a whole other story). I also know and have known lots of younger women with advanced (or metastatic) cancer - which is really what this article from the Los Angeles Times is all about.

As Rebecca Johnson (herself a survivor of breast cancer at 27) and her co-authors concluded, "An increasing number of young women in the United States will present with metastatic breast cancer in an age group that already has the worst prognosis, no recommended routine screening practice, the least health insurance, and the most potential years of life." 

I'm certain this is also true of Canada. This would be someone mitigated by our health care system (where young women don't avoid trips to the doctor due to cost) - I'd love to see a similar study replicated here.

The article raises the question of what is causing this increase and, as is quite common, the issues of diet, exercise, birth control, late pregnancies - so called "lifestyle" issues - are cited as potential culprits. Why then do I know so many healthy, active, thin vegetarians who were diagnosed with very aggressive metastatic breast cancer?

If we really want answers, must more research needs to be done. And this research must include a cold, hard look at environmental factors contributing to cancer.

Think that will ever happen?

I, for one, am not holding my breath.


Facing Cancer Together said...

I was thinking just the same thing - why do I know so many women who didn't fit those categories and still got breast cancer? Something is being missed . . .

laurie said...

Something is being missed for sure. I think that researchers aren't funded to look into environmental questions. Funders and those with power don't want to learn the answers - or to make them public.

Suzanne said...

In families (such as my husband's) with a cancer history it has shown up at younger ages: grandparent generation in 70's and 80's, parent generation in 50' and 60's, grandchild generation 30's and 40's. I don't know what to make of it, but I'm worried about the next generation.