Breast Cancer in Young Women

Young Women CAN and DO Get Breast Cancer

  • Young Women CAN and DO Get Breast CancerIn 2009, the American Cancer Society predicted more than 190,000 new cases of breast cancer in women. 18,600 of these women were younger than 45.1
  • Breast cancer accounts for 15% of all cancers in men and women ages 15-39 years old. 2
  • Younger women have more aggressive cancers and lower survival rates when compared to older women.3
  • Evidence supports that breast cancer before the age of 40 may be biologically different from the breast cancer faced by older women.3


1 American Cancer Society. (2009). Breast Cancer Facts and Figures 2009-10. Atlanta, GA: American Cancer Society, Inc. Available at:
2Adolescent and Young Adult Oncology Progress Review Group. Closing the Gap: Research and Care Imperatives for Adolescents and Young Adults with Cancer. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute and the LIVESTRONG Young Adult Alliance. Available at:
3 Partridge, A.H. et al. (2009). Breast Cancer in Younger Women. In J. Harris (Ed.), Diseases of the Breast (pp. 1073-1083). Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Factors That Puts a Woman at High Risk

There are several factors that put a woman at high risk for developing breast cancer, including:

  • A personal history of breast cancer or high risk lesion found by biopsy
  • A family history of breast cancer, particularly in a mother, daughter, or sister
  • History of radiation therapy in the past
  • BRCA1/BRCA2 mutationàWomen who carry defects on either of these genes are at greater risk for developing breast cancer.

Challenges unique to young women with breast cancer:

  • No good screening tool for women under 40.
  • Pregnancy and fertility concerns after breast cancer.
  • Early menopause from treatment.
  • Research on young women and breast cancer limited due to the lower rate in which they get breast cancer.

Young women need to be vigilant about their breast health!

  • Know your breasts and what is normal for you.
  • Know your risk factors.
  • Know your family history.
  • Don’t ignore problems.

Breast Cancer In Young Women

Breast Cancer Meditation

Woman Meditating