Breast cancer cases on the mainland are rising, pushed up by pollution, lifestyle changes and better diagnosis, according to a leading specialist. Although the number of women affected was still low compared to other countries, it was growing about 4 per cent a year, Zhang Baoning , director of the breast cancer treatment centre at the China Cancer Hospital, said in Beijing. The rate was higher in cities than in the countryside. For every 100,000 women, 56 have breast cancer in Shanghai, while 44 have it in Beijing. Professor Zhang said the number of cases in both cities had risen by more than 10 per 100,000 women in the past decade. 'The increasing incidence is related to air pollution and people's lifestyles resulting from economic growth. It is also due to doctors' being better able to diagnose the disease,' she said. According to Professor Zhang, Chinese women are most likely to get the disease in their 40s - about 10 years earlier than in the west - and the disease appears to be increasingly afflicting young women. She said there had been no obvious decline in the death rate from breast cancer in China, in contrast to trends in other countries.