More women predicted to develop breast cancer

This edition of The Beacon focuses on the theme “I never thought I would…” and many of you wrote to us reflecting that you never thought you would have breast cancer.

Unfortunately, predictions are that breast cancer rates will continue to increase around the world, including in Australia. This is mainly due to our ageing population.

Researchers from the National Cancer Institute in the United States have reported that their modelling shows the number of women expected to develop breast cancer in the US will increase by as much as 50 per cent in the next 15 years.

The researchers used cancer incidence data (the number of women diagnosed every year), census data and forecasting models to make their predictions.

They also looked at trends in the molecular subtypes of breast cancer and made some interesting predictions about the numbers of women being diagnosed with different subtypes, including:

  • The proportion of hormone positive (ER+) invasive (early) breast cancers will remain stable at about 63 per cent.
  • The proportion of hormone positive (ER+) in situ tumours (e.g. DCIS) will increase.
  • The proportion of hormone negative (ER-) invasive (early) breast cancers will decrease, including fewer triple negative cases and fewer ER-negative, HER2-positive cases.
  • The proportion of hormone negative (ER-) in situ tumours will decrease.

The researchers also predict that breast cancer will continue to be a disease of ageing, with fewer women aged 50 to 69 and more women aged 70 to 84 expected to be diagnosed.

Project leader, Phillip Rosenberg PhD, said “Our approach gives us an educated guess to the future profile of breast cancer cases in the United States: older women, more in situ tumours, and fewer ER-negative cases.”

In Australia, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare predicts the number of cases of breast cancer will increase by 10 per cent in the next five years, with 17,210 women expected to be diagnosed in 2020.

Issue 72
Spring 2015