What is the role of age in the etiology of breast cancer?

Updated: Feb 04, 2021
  • Author: Pavani Chalasani, MD, MPH; Chief Editor: John V Kiluk, MD, FACS  more...
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Increasing age and female sex are established risk factors for breast cancer. Sporadic breast cancer is relatively uncommon among women younger than 40 years but increases significantly thereafter. The effect of age on risk is illustrated in the SEER (Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results) data, where the incidence of invasive breast cancer for women younger than 50 years is 44.0 per 100,000 as compared with 345 per 100,000 for women aged 50 years or older. [6]

The total and age-specific incidence for breast cancer is bimodal, with the first peak occurring at about 50 years and the second occurring at about 70 years. [7] This bimodal pattern may reflect the influence of age within the different tumor subtypes; poorly differentiated, high-grade disease tend to occur earlier, whereas hormone-sensitive, slower-growing tumors tend to occur with advancing age.

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