Simon Chapman, professor of public health at the University of Sydney writes:
ABC radio on Sunday morning was reporting that “Figures show 15 per cent of women diagnosed with breast cancer are under the age of 30”.
Now what figures would those be?
Either figures the reporter misread or heard, or dodgy figures used by advocates spruiking for their cause at a Gold Coast conference on young people and cancer.
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s most recent data on national cancer incidence shows that 66 Australian women aged less than 30 were diagnosed with breast cancer out of 12,614 diagnosed in all ages. That’s 0.5% – not 15%. (Ed: correction made on initial post)
The on-line report had not feedback or commentary button.
A study I published with colleagues recently of breast cancer reportage on TV found that over half (55%) of statements about age and breast cancer referred to young women stated or known to be aged under 40. 67% of images of women in television breast cancer reports were known or judged to be women aged under 40. Three cases in young celebrity women accounted for 53% of all statements and 24% of all images about young women and breast cancer.
10,906 of 12,614 (86.5%) breast cancer diagnoses in Australia were in women aged 45 plus and 9,531 (75.6%) were in women over 50 years.
The push to present young women being at significant risk for breast cancer may be lining the pockets of private radiography providers, but it will be causing an alarming and avoidable incidence of unnecessary investigation of what will be mostly false positives.
Will the ABC run a prominent corrective?