A new analysis of the incidence of breast cancer in Italy per 100,000 women between the ages of 0 to 84 from 2000 to 2005 shows a 72 percent spike above official estimates issued by the Ministry of Health, with the sharpest uptick of +28.6 percent found in the youngest group studied (ages 25 to 44).
The new results, which rely on hospitalization databases that track major breast surgeries rather than official estimations computed using statistical models, appear in The Journal of Experimental & Clinical Cancer Research.
"Our findings show that women under 45 who are not currently enrolled in secondary prevention programs, should be considered for receiving regular mammograms," says Prisco Piscitelli, Ph.D., of the CROM (Cancer Research Center) in Mercogliano, Italy, one of the study's authors. "The results also strongly suggests that measures for adopting primary preventative measures to investigate and eliminate dietary, behavioral and environmental causes of breast cancer, such as estrogen in food, hormone pills, smoking, dioxin and pollution."
Overall, the incidence of breast cancer from 2000 to 2005 among all age groups was 26.5 percent higher than official estimations. The incidence of breast cancer per 100,000 women aged 0 to 84 years was 141.80 in the year 2000 and 160.85 in 2005, a 13.4 percent increase. This is 72 percent higher than that provided by official estimations of the Ministry of Health (93 per 100,000 women aged 0 to 84). There was an increase among all groups studied: +9.4 percent in people aged 45 to 64; +11.7 percent in people aged 64 to 75 and +15.7% over 75 years old.
But the most important finding of the study reveals that the highest increase in the incidence rate per 100,000 was observed among women below 45: +28.6 percent in people 25 to 44.
The new analysis examines the number of major surgeries (mastectomies and quadrantectomies) attributed to breast cancer over six years and by age group. Their results show that over that period, 100,745 mastectomies and 168,147 quadrantectomies were performed. A total of 41,608 major surgeries due to breast cancer were performed in the year 2000, a figure that rose to 47,200 in 2005, signifying a 13.8 percent rise over the six years.
By comparison, official estimations from the Italian Ministry of Health tallied only 37,300 cases in the year 2005.
Until now, official epidemiological data concerning the incidence of breast cancer in Italy has been computed using a statistical model (MIAMOD --Morality-Incidence Analysis MODel) based on mortality and survival data. The newly published analysis relies on hospitalization databases that track major breast surgeries.
The current study notes that while use of MIAMOD may be justified in light of the need to evaluate the incidence of all tumors, the figures may underestimate the number of breast cancers, since many deaths that occur at home or in hospital settings might be attributed to cardiovascular causes on the statistical form filled out by physicians.
Sbarro Health Research Organization (www.shro.org), a nonprofit charitable organization, is a leader in cancer, cardiovascular, and diabetes research, and supports the Sbarro Institute for Cancer Research and Molecular Medicine located at the Center for Biotechnology in the College of Science & Technology at Temple University in Philadelphia, PA.