Breast Cancer in Young Women
Most breast cancers are found in women who are 50 years old or older, but breast cancer also affects younger women. About 11% of all new cases of breast cancer in the United States are found in women younger than 45 years of age.
Who Has a Higher Risk?
Some young women are at a higher risk for getting breast cancer at an early age compared with other women their age. If you are a woman under age 45, you may have a higher risk if you have—
- Close relatives who were diagnosed with breast or ovarian cancer when they were younger than 45, especially if more than one relative was diagnosed or if a male relative had breast cancer.
- Changes in your BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes, or close relatives with these changes.
- An Ashkenazi Jewish heritage.
- Been treated with radiation therapy to the breast or chest during childhood or early adulthood.
- Had breast cancer or certain other breast health problems.
- Been told that you have dense breasts on a mammogram.
What Can I Do to Lower My Risk?
If you have a higher risk for breast cancer, it is important that you—
- Know how your breasts normally look and feel. If you notice a change in the size or shape of your breast, feel pain in your breast, have nipple discharge other than breast milk (including blood), or other symptoms, talk to a doctor right away.
- Talk to your doctor if you have a higher risk. If your risk is high, your doctor may suggest that you get genetic counseling and be tested for changes in your BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. Your doctor may also talk to you about getting mammograms earlier and more often than other women, whether other screening tests might be right for you, and medicines or surgeries that can lower your risk.
What Is CDC Doing About Breast Cancer in Young Women?
CDC works with public, non-profit, and private partners to address breast cancer in women by conducting research, convening the Advisory Committee on Breast Cancer in Young Women, funding education and survivorship programs, and educating young women and medical providers about breast cancer and breast health. Read about some of CDC’s major projects.
Our “Breast Cancer in Young Women” fact sheet [PDF-1.7MB] explains who may get breast cancer at a younger age.
In the “Be Your Own Health Advocate” video, 40-year-old Lisa talks about her decision to get tested for a BRCA gene mutation.
This infographic explains what young women need to know about hereditary breast and ovarian cancer.