Background: We performed this study to evaluate the chronological changes in Korean breast cancer characteristics and reproductive factors from 1996 to 2006. Materials and Methods: We analyzed the chronological changes among newly diagnosed primary breast cancer patients recruited at 102 general hospitals. All participating hospitals provided the essential information through the nationwide on-line registration program. Results: Eleven thousand two hundred seventy five cases of breast cancer were newly diagnosed in 2006. The crude incidence rate of breast cancer of 2006 was 46 (average 47.0 ± 10.8) among 100,000 and the patient's median age was 48 (average 49.2 ± 10.4) years (P < 0.001). In a difference from the United States and Western countries, the age distribution of breast cancer peaked in the fifth decade of life; this was followed by the sixth, fourth, and seventh decades. Compared with the results of previous studies 1996, this study also showed a continuous increase in: the incidence; breast-conserving surgery; breast reconstruction after operation; the percentage of early breast cancer; and the number of patients with risk factors. Conclusion: Our results suggest the incidence of breast cancer in Korea will continue to rise. Several characteristics of Korean breast cancer patients seem to follow the patterns of Western countries, but differences are present.
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