Is it common for young women to get breast cancer?

Most breast cancers happen in women over the age of 50, but the CDC states that about 11 percent of all breast cancer diagnoses occur in women under the age of 45. There are risk factors for developing breast cancer at a young age. Possible risk factors a person might have include:

Close relatives who were diagnosed with breast or ovarian cancer, particularly at age 45 or younger

Changes in certain breast cancer genes — BRCA1 and BRCA2

Treatment with radiation therapy to the breast or chest as a child or young adult

A personal history of breast cancer or problems, such as atypical hyperplasia

First menses before age 12

There are no effective breast cancer screening tools for women under 40, so it is important to be aware of your own breast health, even if you do not have any of the above risk factors. An estimated almost 80 percent of young breast cancer survivors find the lump or other initial symptoms themselves.

Because being a young breast cancer survivor can come with its own set of issues, such as fertility problems and early menopause, these young women might want to seek out other young survivors. Cancer Services hosts a monthly support group in partnership with OLOL – Mary Bird Perkins called SurviveDat, which meets on the second Tuesday of each month. The next meeting is at 6 p.m. Oct. 13 Cancer Services, at 550 Lobdell Ave., Baton Rouge.

ä Internet Resources:

CDC - Breast Cancer in Young Women

Young Survival Coalition