More women are being diagnosed with advanced breast cancer at an early age.
"It's scary. It's scary. But it's definitely something to be aware of," Adina Brief said.
A new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association finds a small but significant increase in advanced breast cancer among women in their 20s and 30s. Researchers found the rate has gone up each year since 1976.
"Ideally you would like to see that number go down and not go up," said Dr. Stephanie Bernik of Lenox Hill Hospital.
Young women with breast cancer tend to have more aggressive forms of the disease than older women and have lower survival rates.
Some 230,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer in the U.S. every year, 11,000 are under 40. There are no routine screening practices recommended for that age group. Experts say younger women usually don't know something is wrong until they can actually feel a lump-- a sign the tumor is advanced.
"Women really have to pay attention to what's going on in their physical exam. If they feel a mass, not ignore it, bring it to the doctor's attention," Bernik said.
Elena Wortzel is 27, but she already gets mammograms because of her family history.
"It's scary you don't think of it as coming into younger people like that, you think of it as an older kind of disease," Wortzel said.
Researchers say more studies need to be done to figure out why the numbers are going up.
The study also found that the breast cancer incidence increased in all races and ethnicities.
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