Many years ago, Baystate Health surgeon Holly S. Mason observed a “preponderance” after various weeks and weeks of she called “very young women with breast cancer in their 20s and early 30s, much more than what we have usually seen.”
Mason is section leader of breast surgery and surgical oncology in the section of surgery at Baystate and co-medical director of its Breast and Wellness Center.
She and statistician Jane Grub carried out an intense study to determine, with the help of data from Baystate’s Tumor Registry along with a lot of other sources, that the rise in the Pioneer Valley was not one “to issue red flags” and need further inquiry and some type of intervention like more screening.
“We were willing to see what were the patterns and whether what we were feeling here in the Pioneer Valley was not normal or was more of a definite change that other areas were seeing as well,” Mason said.
“We did find a rise but not a statistically significant that would be required to raise significant red flags, but definitely as the detection of breast cancer has risen so have the numbers throughout the country increase.
We had a very likely increase but it was not something that would have allowed a significant search and intervention.”
Mason added, “When we did the study we took data on about 6,800 patients who inducted into having breast cancer and 6 percent of them went into what we call early onset.”
With good medical, the probability of survival for young women identified with early breast cancer is good. Most women can be hopeful of living for years ahead.
However, prognosis tends to be a notch bad in women who are below 40 than in older women.
Breast cancers in younger women have the following characteristics to put it out vaguely:
An increased grade
Negative hormone receptor
Each of these factors makes breast cancer more violent and more vulnerable and therefore need chemotherapy