login Membership
data blog
Oct 04, 2022

Breast cancer gets younger in Asia: Numbers behind the story

Breast cancer gets younger in Asia: Numbers behind the story Every year, an average of 131,377 women aged between 15 and 39 years are diagnosed with a tumour in their breasts. Over 63 per cent of teenage breast cancer cases come from six Asian countries, with Pakistan alone accounting for over 22 per cent.

By Fatima Majid · Oct 04, 2022

The 37 trillion cells that make up our body, each contains 20,000 genes that determine our physical and biological traits such as our appearances and habits. A tiny change in just one gene becomes the root cause of a disease that affects an average of 1.3 million women around the world, every year.

Kruxd goes behind the numbers of breast cancer, to know the occurrence of breast cancer gene mutations and associated cancer risks in young females.

What causes Breast Cancer? 

The human genome has two genes that inhibit the growth of tumors in the breast - BRCA1 (Breast Cancer Gene 1) and BRCA2 (Breast Cancer Gene 2). Any mutation in either of the two can shift their roles from inhibitive to assistive, generating tumors that lead to cancer. Various factors, including old age, reproductive history, radiation therapies, drug exposure, and dense breast tissue, might cause these healthy genes to become carcinogenic.

There are some who may already be carrying these mutations in their bodies due to genetic inheritance. These kinds of mutations raise the likelihood of a woman getting hereditary breast or ovarian cancer and of a man getting hereditary prostate or breast cancer.

Does inheritance increase risk?

About 13 percent of women in the general population are at risk of having cancer at some point in their lives, according to the National Cancer Institute. However, inheritance does add to the risk. By 80 years of age, 55 per cent of women who inherit a mutant BRCA1 gene and 45 per cent of women who inherit a mutated BRCA2 gene are at risk of developing cancer.

Breast cancer in young women

Breast cancer is typically diagnosed in women in their 50s or older. However, incidences have also been reported in women under 40 years of age. In 2019 alone, more than 160,000 women in the age group of 15-39 years were affected by breast cancer, with 42,059 of them eventually succumbing to the disease. In the 31 years between 1990 & 2020, more than 4 million young women have developed breast cancer. 

Is breast cancer more prevalent in Asian countries?

Country-wise data for breast cancer shows that the burden of this ailment in young women is most prevalent among Asian countries. Three Asian countries - China (368,375 cases), India (18,534 cases), and Indonesia (9701 cases) are among the five worst hit globally.

Teenage breast cancer heavily dominant in Asia

Globally, 2746 girls in their teenage years (15-19) suffered from breast cancer in 2019. Pakistan alone accounts for 613 of these cases - over 22 percent. Together with India (434), Indonesia (287), China (230) and Bangladesh (187), five Asian countries make up for over 63 per cent of the world’s teenage cancer cases.

How to reduce this risk?

Breast cancer is a result of several interrelated factors that one may have no control over. These include ageing, genetic mutations, reproductive history, or being born to Ashkenazi Jewish Heritage. Risks do increase, however, with physical inactivity, being obese after menopause, using contraceptive pills, first pregnancy after 30, insufficient breastfeeding, taking hormone supplements during menopause, and drinking alcohol etc. A doctor should be consulted if a lump, mass, or any other changes are noticed, and screening mammography should be initiated for early detection. It is also encouraged to keep a check by performing medically safe and approved self examinations.

Read more
Explore related infographics