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Having a first child later in life is the main cause of increase in breast cancer
World Breast Cancer Day 2023

Having a first child later in life is the main cause of increase in breast cancer

Despite a growing number of cases of the disease in Malaga, the province's survival rate stands at 88% and is above the average for the rest of Europe

Iván Gelibter


Thursday, 19 October 2023, 12:48


Cases of breast cancer are increasing in Malaga province and health professionals say it is linked to more women having children when they're older. The news comes today (Thursday 19 October) when the World Health Organization marks the International Day against breast cancer with the aim of raising awareness and promoting woman´s access to timely and effective controls, diagnoses and treatments.

The disease affected 1,213 women in Malaga province in 2022, nearly 30 more than the previous year, and consistent with an upward trend that started in 2013. Director of oncology of the city's Regional y Clínico hospitals Emilio Alba said 75% of cases were related to oestrogen. In this case, the first cancer cell must have been produced sometime between the first menstruation period and the woman's first pregnancy, she pointed out. "So what we are trying to do is to measure how much time has passed between the first period and the first pregnancy," Alba said.

The doctor pointed out an example that in 1900 on average, the first period came at the age of 15 and the first pregnancy at the age of 19. Nowadays, the first period occurs at around 12, and the first pregnancy at 33.

Of last year's 1,213 cases of breast cancer in the province, 925 were diagnosed in the medical oncology departments of the public hospitals in Malaga city: a figure which has been on the increase at these medical facilities since 2016.

Meanwhile, the survival rate also continues to increase, standing at 88% in the past five years across the whole population in the province and above the European average, Alba pointed out.

Clinical trials

Alba stressed the importance of using cutting-edge technologies, but also clinical trials to continue progress in cancer research. "Since 2014, 141 clinical trials on breast cancer have been carried out in Malaga, providing a framework for the evaluation of new therapies and treatment approaches," she said.

The 568 patients from the clinical and regional hospitals of Malaga who are part of these trials allow the scientific community "to advance in the understanding of the disease, increase the survival rate and quality of life of patients," she added.

One of the clinical trials in which the medical oncology UGCI of the Malaga hospitals has participated was recently published in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine. Before the results of this clinical trial, all postmenopausal women with signs of breast cancer needed to receive chemotherapy and hormone therapy after surgery. "Thanks to the study, we have learned that most of these women do not need chemotherapy and that with hormone therapy alone they have a five-year survival of more than 90%," Alba said.

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