Sun, Nov 16, 2003 - Page 2 News List

Breast cancer affects the younger generation most

By Joy Su  /  STAFF REPORTER

Breast cancer affects a younger age group in Taiwan than in the US and is largely concentrated in northern metropolitan areas, according to doctors of the Breast Cancer Society of Taiwan.

Yu Chih-chen (俞志誠), a Veterans' General Hospital doctor, confirmed records indicating that Taiwanese women with breast cancer were on average 15 years younger than patients in the US and more often in the second stage of breast cancer at the time of diagnosis.

"In Taiwan, 50 percent of breast cancer patients are between the ages of 35 and 50, whereas the largest proportion of breast cancer patients abroad are between the ages of 55 and 70," Yu said.

"Furthermore, most breast cancer patients are in the first stage of development in the US. In Taiwan, over 40 percent are already in the second stage by the time they are diagnosed with the disease," he said.

Records indicate that while 20 percent of Taiwan's breast cancer patients are in the first stage of cancer development, 60 percent of breast cancer cases in the US are in the first stage.

Forty-four percent of Taiwanese breast cancer cases are in the second stage while the figure is only 20 percent in the US.

Furthermore, while 20 percent of Taiwan's breast cancer cases are in the third stage and 16 percent in the fourth stage, the corresponding figures are only 14 percent and 6 percent respectively in the US.

However, Yu said that the two phenomena could be linked to the fact that cancer development is faster in younger individuals.

At the same time, Department of Health data shows that of the 4,500 new cases of breast cancer in Taiwan each year, 2,300 cases afflict patients living in northern Taiwan, with roughly one third of all breast cancer patients living in either Taipei or Taipei County.

"Breast cancer has been shown to be linked to the level of education, which might be an explanation for why breast cancer is more prevalent in Taiwan's urban areas. In general, breast cancer is more common in areas where educational levels are higher," Yu said.

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