The incidence of breast cancer in women in Taiwan has doubled over the past decade, the Formosa Cancer Foundation said yesterday, citing data provided by the Bureau of Health Promotion.
A 2010 cancer registry report from the bureau showed a greater than 100 percent growth in incidences of breast cancer in women during a 10-year period, from 4,681 cases reported in 2000 to 9,655 in 2010, the foundation said, adding that the number of cases reported in 2009 was 8,926, showing that the number of cases has been steadily rising for years.
At a charity walk held yesterday in Taipei to raise public awareness of breast cancer, foundation chairman Wang Jin-pyng (王金平) said the incidence rate in women aged between 45 and 49 is the highest in all age groups.
Wang suggested five ways in which women can reduce their likelihood of developing breast cancer. They are to be regularly screened, take plenty of exercise, maintain a healthy body, avoid tobacco and eat a balanced diet.
Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) said many people are mistaken in thinking that cancer is always fatal.
“The later stages of cancer are of course especially worrying, but early medical intervention can greatly increase the chances of successful treatment. In the case of breast cancer, success rates can be as high as 97 percent due to prompt detection,” he said.
The group also said that women who have no children, or who have them later in life, may be at greater risk of developing breast cancer, while other risk factors include having a first-degree relative (mother, sister or daughter) who had suffered breast cancer, having had ovarian or endometrial cancer, going through menopause later or using hormone replacement therapy.
On why women may have a slightly higher breast cancer risk if they have no children or had their first child after the age of 30, foundation chief executive officer and head of the Division of Hematology/Oncology at Wan-Fang Hospital Lai Gi-ming (賴基銘) said a possible reason could be that progesterone, a hormone that can inhibit human breast cancer cell growth, increases during pregnancy.
“Having children early in life can help inhibit the development of breast cancer cells,” said Lai, who nevertheless emphasized that a healthy diet and lifestyle as well as routine screening are the best ways to prevent cancer.