Breast cancer is most common in women over 50 years of age but can occur in men also. As per expert younger women are also at risk of this disease.. The exact age considered young for having breast cancer varies. In most of the scientific studies younger women who are younger than 35, 40, or 45 have breast cancer. In the US CDC says about 2,300 men and 255000 women receive a breast cancer diagnosis every year. This disease is the 2nd leading cause of cancer-related death among women.
According to CDC data, 9% of all new breast cancer diagnoses occur in women younger than 45 years of age in the US. Women of this age group are also more likely to experience poor outcomes from the condition. According to one study for young women, mortality risk with breast cancer may vary depending on where they live. Another research found that in the age group of 20–49 years, around 77% of breast cancer diagnoses occurred in women ages 40–49 years. The researchers found that breast cancer occurrence was higher among Black women in women younger than 45 years of age.
Breast Cancer in younger women is more aggressive, invasive, and fast-growing, tends to have reached a later stage at diagnosis, has a higher likelihood of being triple-negative or HER2-overexpressing, and has a higher recurrence rate. Triple-negative breast cancer is challenging to treat because it lacks the hormone receptors present in other types. This there are limited options when it comes to treatment. Radiation and chemotherapy are usually effective against this type of breast cancer.
The risk factor for breast cancer found in older women among them many of them apply to younger women as well. The risk factors include during a mammogram having dense breast tissue, having previously had breast cancer or other breast health issues, received radiation therapy to the breast or chest area in childhood or early adulthood, having Ashkenazi Jewish heritage, having changes in breast cancer genes, having close relatives with these gene changes, having close relatives who had breast cancer before the age of 45 years or ovarian cancer at any age.
Diagnoses and prevention of breast cancer –
Breast cancer is diagnosed at a later stage in younger women as compared to older women. The reason for this is not very clear. One possible explanation could be that women are unaware that it can happen at a young age, which may delay diagnosis and treatment. The other reason could be breast tissue in younger women can be denser during breast self-exams and mammograms, making it challenging to find tumours.
Experts suggest that women ages 50–74 years who have an average risk of breast cancer get a mammogram every two years. Women ages 40–49 years should consult with a doctor to decide when to begin mammogram screening. The testing for cancer is done to identify known mutations in the BRCA genes. If a woman has either a positive BRCA test or a negative test with a strong family history, she should likely begin a regular program of screening mammography and breast MRI at that time. Breast cancer detected during a mammogram, or an MRI is generally smaller in size. But mammograms are not foolproof and breast cancer tumours can be missed in this.
Due to the nature of the condition, prevention of breast cancer at a younger age may be challenging. Knowing risk factors and seeking preventive care is critical. If a young woman has risk factors, she should meet with her doctor to discuss high-risk breast screening programs. They can benefit from the genetic screen as well. Specific lifestyle changes can also reduce the risks.
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