While the prevalence of breast cancer among women in Asia is lower than it is in much of the world, those who are hit by it in China tend to develop the illness at a much younger age, according to a new epidemiology study.
The survey, conducted by the Cancer Foundation of China between 1999 and 2008, found most Chinese women who developed the disease did so between 40 and 49.
The survey sampled more than 4,200 patients from throughout the mainland.
Among them, nearly 40 percent were aged between 40 and 49, which was about 10 years younger than the age most women develop the disease in the West.
"The findings are significant for more targeted intervention efforts in the country, including raising public awareness, campaigns and breast cancer screening programs," said Professor Zhang Baoning of the Cancer Institute and Hospital, Chinese Academy of Medical Science.
For instance, breast cancer screening should be targeted at women starting at age 35, he told China Daily.
The survey also found that the mortality rate is rising in China while it has been declining since the 1990s in the West.
"They are more experienced in early detection and proper treatment, given that most Western countries started breast cancer screening programs in the early 1960s," he said.
In China, the government did not start its free breast cancer screening program for rural woman until 2008. There is not yet a free breast cancer screening program for urban residents but one is expected soon, said professor Shen Zhenzhou with Fudan University's Shanghai Cancer Center.