Breast Cancer Awareness for Women Under 40: 5 Important Facts to Keep in Mind

Breast Cancer Awareness for Women Under 40: 5 Important Facts to Keep in Mind

Later this year, during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Ciralu will be conducting an in-depth exploration of a particular topic in the breast cancer field. Last year, we delved into the mastectomy journey with medical professionals, survivors, and their families. This year, we will focus on breast cancer in women under 40.

Breast cancer is not common among women under 40, so receiving a breast cancer diagnosis can be a shock for young women.

Breast cancer in younger women has its own risk factors and characteristics, and younger women need to consider different factors when choosing treatment, according to the team at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) in Boston.

They have identified five things that women under the age of 40 should be aware of.


Know Your Breasts. A lump is not the only sign of possible breast cancer. Although lumps don't always indicate breast cancer, other symptoms to watch for include discharge from the nipple or an inverted nipple.


Know Your Family History. In younger women, breast cancer is more likely to be caused by genetics. If you are 45 or younger and have been diagnosed with breast cancer, consider genetic testing to see if you have inherited a cancer-causing gene, such as BRCA1 or BRCA2. Many genes that increase the risk of breast cancer can be identified through a blood test.


Know Other Risk Factors. Family history is not the only risk factor for breast cancer in younger women. Others include:

  • Previous high-dose radiation to the chest
  • Early onset of menstrual periods (before age 12)
  • Late age pregnancy or no previous pregnancy
  • Dense breasts on mammogram
  • Heavy alcohol consumption
  • Obesity
  • Sedentary lifestyle


Know How to Find the Right Doctor. If you are diagnosed with breast cancer, it is crucial to find the right healthcare team to work with you. You may see various types of oncologists (cancer specialists), such as medical, surgical, and radiation oncologists. Your healthcare team should be knowledgeable about all the latest treatments and approaches, including genetics, neoadjuvant therapy (chemotherapy before surgery), and immunotherapy.

"New treatments that utilize a person's immune system to fight cancer (immunotherapy) are particularly effective in treating triple-negative breast cancer, which is a type of cancer that is more often found in younger women," said Nadine Tung, MD, Head of Breast Medical Oncology and Cancer Genetics at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC).


Know It's Okay to Ask Questions. Receiving a breast cancer diagnosis is overwhelming at any age. For younger women, there may be unique issues to consider, such as fertility or other areas of reproductive health.

Do you have any questions you would like us to ask our interviewees before October? Please send us a message on Facebook or Instagram.