31 million women in the United States are living with a history of breast cancer. Of those women, 250 thousand were diagnosed when they were younger than 40. A family history and age are the most significant risks factor when it comes to breast cancer.
The prime demographic for women for getting breast cancer is typically between the ages of 50 and 70,” Thomas Samuel, MD a breast oncologist at Cleveland Clinic Florida, said. But still 1,000 women under 40 die from breast cancer every year and there’s no effective breast cancer screening tool for women under 40. Mammograms are not an effective screening tool for women under 40 because the breast tissue is too dense. So experts recommend women 20 and older perform monthly breast self-examinations the day after their period ends.
“We also do recommend women to have a physician breast exam beginning or the end around age 25 on an annual bases and typically a primary care doctor or a gynecologist would be the ones who do that,” continued Dr. Samuel.
Some other things to note for breast cancer in younger women: breast cancer tends to be found in later stages and be more aggressive. Younger women also have a higher mortality rate when it comes to breast cancer and the risk of metastatic recurrence is higher. Even though breast cancer is still more prevalent in an older demographic, that does not mean it’s not impossible in younger women.
Breast cancer is also the most common form of cancer diagnosed in pregnant women or women who have recently given birth. About 30 percent of breast cancer in young women is found a few years after having a child.