News | February 02, 2009

Breast Cancer to Surge Among U.S. Elderly, Minorities

February 2, 2009 - Looming demographic shifts in the U.S. over the coming 20 years are projected to result in major increases in breast cancer cases among the elderly and in minorities.

Now is the time to start planning for these changes, particularly since older individuals and minorities are groups at increased risk for suboptimal cancer care, Benjamin D. Smith, M.D., asserted at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium.

Using population projections obtained from the Census Bureau along with age- and gender-based breast cancer incidence rates derived from the National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results database for 2003-2005, he and his coworkers estimated that the number of cases of invasive breast cancer diagnosed in American women would increase 30 percent from 226,000 in 2010 to 294,000 in 2030.

Meanwhile, because of the graying of the population, the annual number of women aged 65 years and older who are diagnosed with breast cancer is expected to jump 57 percent - nearly double the overall rate, according to Dr. Smith of Wilford Hall Medical Center, San Antonio.

Over the same 2 decades, invasive breast cancer cases in Hispanics are projected to climb 106 percent, in African Americans 48 percent, and in Asian/Pacific Islanders 100 percent.

The National Cancer Institute’s Center to Reduce Cancer Health Disparities has identified the elderly and minorities as groups traditionally experiencing disparities in breast cancer care. Part of the problem is that they have been underrepresented in clinical trials, making it more difficult to define best practices in these populations, Dr. Smith noted.

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