Chinese Women Diagnosed With Breast Cancer Younger: Why?
While a good deal of research has been devoted to breast cancer patients in the western world, specifically, the United States, it’s important to remember that breast cancer doesn’t abide by international boundaries. Research studies often make a point of identifying which sample group their data applies to because it’s been documented that the disease affects different populations in different ways.
Many factors such as genetic differences and cultural practices play a role in the way breast cancer affects certain groups. Recently, data was released by The China Anti-Cancer Committee indicating that Chinese women tend to be diagnosed with breast cancer at a younger age compared to their western counterparts. Most of these are in the age group of 45–55 years.
This data could be viewed in a positive light from one perspective: a patient can begin treatment earlier if detection and diagnosis are done early as well. The chances of successful treatment are higher the sooner it is begun. The data regarding Chinese women being diagnosed at an early age is still being studied. This information suggests that this group of women develop the disease at an earlier stage. It could also put forward more effective early detection practices. From another perspective, however, the data could be taken negatively, since it may indicate a reduced lifespan overall.
Along with this data, the Chinese officials have also noted a greater number of documented cases of breast cancer. Every year, there are 27,900 cases of breast cancer diagnosed. Dr. Zhang Jin noted that self-examinations are important, but along with that, China also has to emerge new diagnostic methods so that they can be accessible to a wide spectrum of women. China may be able to curb this growing cancer trend with increased knowledge and advancements in technology.
Along with China, the documented cases of breast cancer are also high in other Asian countries. The highest number of cases is seen in the United States, followed by China, and then India third. India having the third highest reported incidences of breast cancer is somewhat alarming, and they have been increasing at a fairly rapid rate. According to the year-to-year data, the cases have been increasing by 40%–55%, compared to China, which has seen only a 2% uptick.
The mortality rate due to female-specific cancers is also high in India because it is one of the top two most populated countries in the world. The country’s mortality rate is 1.6%–1.7% compared to other countries.
Why Is This Happening?
Medical providers believe there is a lack of awareness about breast cancer and self-examinations in the Indian population, so many cases go undiagnosed. Moreover, cancer is often detected late there, which results in a high mortality rate. Improving education along with early detection will help to lower it, and so access to such education is being improved and those with breast cancer or who are at risk are being provided with better care.
Differences in public and cultural practices in a given country play a huge role in regards to health and disease. A link has been found between obesity and certain types of cancer, and it was observed to be high in women. Although breast cancer can be prevented in obese patients by using Tamoxifen, they are only effective when dealing with estrogen-receptor-positive (ER+) breast cancer. However, data such as this can help maintain one’s overall health.
It can be difficult to pin down the factors that contribute to breast cancer. However, different practices can contribute to developing breast cancer in certain countries. The three factors that seem to be applicable are access to diagnostic methods and treatment, increased education, and maintaining good health.