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Invited Critique
January 1, 2004

Clinical Characteristics of Breast Cancer Patients in Korea in 2000—Invited Critique

Arch Surg. 2004;139(1):31. doi:10.1001/archsurg.139.1.31

Dr Ahn and colleagues have compiled the results of a nationwide multicenter survey and described the characteristics of breast cancer patients in Korea for the year 2000 compared with surveys conducted in 1996 and 1998. This is a short period of observation; nonetheless, certain trends and patterns are recognized by the authors that may offer insight into the future epidemiology of breast cancer in Korea.

The authors hypothesize that the risk factors of early menarche and late menopause are increasingly observed due to the progressive westernization of the Korean diet. This likely does not account for the observed increase in the family history of breast cancer in the survey participants. In addition, the age distribution of breast cancer patients is quite different from that seen in western countries, with the peak age occurring 20 to 30 years earlier in Korea. Is life expectancy significantly shorter by comparison in Korea? They did not comment on the genetics of breast cancer in the study population. Including this variable in future surveys may shed some light on the observed differences.