YOUNG WOMEN & BREAST CANCER

YSC is unstoppably, unshakably and unconditionally devoted to the issues facing young women with breast cancer.  No two cases of breast cancer are alike. But through shared wisdom and unconditional support, YSC has created a wealth of resources to help young women thrive.

Breast Cancer in Young Women

  • Young women CAN and DO get breast cancer.
  • It is estimated that 13,110 cases of breast cancer will be in women under age 40 and 26,275 of these women will be under 45 years of age. ¹
  • 1 young woman is diagnosed with breast cancer every 40 minutes
  • One in 20 women with breast cancer is under age 40 when diagnosed. One in 8 women diagnosed with breast cancer is younger than 45 when diagnosed.
  • Breast cancer accounts for 26% of all cancer in women 15–39 years of age and 39% of all cancer in 35–39 year-olds.
  • Young women are more likely to have aggressive subtypes of breast cancer, including triple negative and HER2+ disease, larger tumor sizes and higher incidence of lymph node involvement.³


The Issues

Young women diagnosed with breast cancer face a myriad of issues that may significantly impact their quality and quantity of life. These issues are often amplified for women diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. Some of these concerns include:

  • Lack of Research: As the incidence of young women with breast cancer is much lower than in older women, young women are often an underrepresented population in research studies.
  • Pregnancy: Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in women who are pregnant or have recently given birth, occurring once in every 3,000 pregnancies. An estimated 30 percent or more of all breast cancer in young women is diagnosed in the few years after a woman has had a baby.
  • Early Onset Menopause: Chemotherapy and hormonal treatments can sometimes bring on premature menopause which can significantly impact quality of life.
  • Fertility: Breast cancer treatment may affect a woman’s ability and plans to have children.
  • Child Rearing: Many young women are raising small children while enduring treatment and subsequent side effects.
  • Financial Challenges: Breast cancer can dramatically impact a young woman’s financial stability when it pertains to workplace issues, lack of health insurance or being underinsured and the cost of cancer care.
  • Body Image: It may be challenging for some women to embrace their new body after breast cancer-related surgery.
  • Relationships & Dating: Whether married or single, intimacy issues may arise for women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer.

For more information about young women and breast cancer please visit youngsurvival.org.

¹American Cancer Society. Breast Cancer Facts & Figures 2011-2012
²Since the number of women diagnoses annually has increased now one woman is diagnosed every 40 minutes. 524,160 minutes in a year divided by 13,110 women diagnosed each year equals 40.
³Carey K. Anders et al., "Breast Carcinomas Arising at a Young Age: Unique Biology or a Surrogate for Aggressive Intrinsic Subtypes?," Journal of Clinical Oncology 29:1 (2011).  Carey K. Anders et al., "Young Age at Diagnosis Correlates With Worse Prognosis and Defines a Subset of Breast Cancers With Shared Patterns of Gene Expression," Journal of Clinical Oncology 26:20 (2008)