Data show 25% of breast cancer incidence in women under 40 years of age, says Apollo Hospitals

While global guidelines advocate for initiating regular breast cancer screening at the age of 40, the evolving landscape and these findings necessitate a re-evaluation of these guidelines, especially for Indian women, says Sathya Sriram, chief executive officer, Preventive Health

Updated - October 22, 2023 02:04 pm IST

Published - October 20, 2023 08:27 pm IST - CHENNAI

Apollo Hospitals, on analysing close to 1,50,000 of its health screenings over the past five years, has found that 25% of breast cancer incidence were in women aged under 40 years in India.

Listing the key findings from screenings, the hospital said that 25% of breast cancer cases among Indian women occurred at the age of 39 years or less. The recorded minimum age at the time of breast cancer diagnosis is 23 years. The data also showed that the median age of breast cancer incidence among Indian women is almost 10 years earlier than Western countries such as the U.S. and U.K. Breast cancer diagnosis among Indian women is at an average of 53 years, lower than the median age of 62 years in these western countries, according to a press release.

About 23% screened with mammography were found to have some abnormality and underwent further evaluation with histopathology. Of this, 11.2% were diagnosed with breast cancer.

Sathya Sriram, chief executive officer, Preventive Health, said that while global guidelines have advocated for initiating regular breast cancer screening at the age of 40, the evolving landscape and these findings necessitated a re-evaluation of these guidelines, especially for Indian women.

Manjula Rao, Breast Cancer Specialist and Oncoplastic Surgeon, Apollo Proton Cancer Centre said that more than 60% of breast cancer patients in India presented in more advanced stages, with increased breast cancer-related mortality when compared to the West, which reports lower mortality rate, despite higher incidence of the disease. This highlighted the relevance of public awareness and breast cancer screening that helps in early detection.

The hospital recommended breast self-examinations every month starting at the age of 20 to familiarise with any changes that may occur over time, including lumps, skin changes or discharge, annual clinical breast exam by a doctor or trained healthcare professional starting at age 30 and annual mammogram from the age of 40, the release said.

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