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Health and Economic Impact of Breast Cancer Mortality in Young Women, 1970–2008

      Background

      Breast cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer-related deaths among women aged <50 years. Studies on the effects of breast cancer mortality among young women are limited.

      Purpose

      To assess trends in breast cancer mortality rates among women aged 20–49 years, estimate years of potential life lost (YPLL), and the value of productivity losses due to premature mortality.

      Methods

      Age-adjusted rates and rate ratios (RRs) were calculated using 1970–2008 U.S. mortality data. Breast cancer mortality rates over time were assessed using Joinpoint regression modeling. YPLL was calculated using number of cancer deaths and the remaining life expectancy at the age of death. Value of productivity losses was estimated using the number of deaths and the present value of future lifetime earnings.

      Results

      From 1970 to 2008, the age-adjusted breast cancer mortality rate among young women was 12.02/100,000. Rates were higher in the Northeast (RR=1.03, 95% CI, 1.02–1.04). The annual decline in breast cancer mortality rates among blacks was smaller (−0.68%) compared with whites (−2.02%). The total number of deaths associated with breast cancer was 225,866, which accounted for an estimated 7.98 million YPLL. The estimated total productivity loss in 2008 was $5.49 billion and individual lifetime lost earnings were $1.10 million.

      Conclusions

      Considering the effect of breast cancer on women of working age and the disproportionate impact on black women, more age-appropriate interventions with multiple strategies are needed to help reduce these substantial health and economic burdens, improve survival, and in turn reduce productivity costs associated with premature death.
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