From Young Survival Coalition

Facts and Statistics
If popular opinion were true—that young women don’t get breast cancer—YSC wouldn’t be here. We all know the truth, though—young women can and do get breast cancer. And the facts back us up. Here are some startling stats to wake us all up—and get us ready to defeat this disease together.

Women Just Like Us:

  • You’re not the only one: Each year, approximately 70 thousand men and women age 15 to 39 are diagnosed with cancer in the US.1 Breast cancer is the most common cancer for women in this age group.2
  • Women ages 15 to 34 and 35 to 54 die more frequently from breast cancer than any other cancer.3
    In 2011, the American Cancer Society projected 230,480 new cases of invasive breast cancer among U.S. women annually, as well as an estimated 57,650 additional cases of in situ breast cancer.4
  • It is estimated that 13,110 cases of breast cancer will be in women under age 404 and approximately 26,275 women will be under 45 years of age.5
  • Every year, nearly 1,200 women under age 40 die from breast cancer.4

A Different Enemy:
Compared to older women, young women generally face more aggressive cancers and lower survival rates.4,6 More and more evidence tells us that breast cancer before age 40 differs biologically from the cancer faced by older women.7

Our Unique Challenges:

  • No effective breast-cancer screening tool yet exists for women ages 40 or younger.
  • Young women with breast cancer struggle with many issues either not present or much less severe in the lives of older women, including:
    • The possibility of early menopause
    • Effects on fertility
    • Questions about pregnancy after diagnosis
    • Concerns about body image
    • Challenges to financial stability
  • Since breast cancer occurs at a much lower rate among young women than in our older counterparts, we remain underrepresented in many research studies.7

Your Background, Your Challenges: Health Disparities

  • African American women under age 35 have rates of breast cancer two times higher than Caucasian women under age 35.8
  • African American women under age 35 die from breast cancer three times as often as Caucasian women of the same age.8
  • Researchers believe that access to healthcare and the quality of healthcare available may explain these disparities, although scientists continue to investigate. Research also shows that young, African American women are more likely to get aggressive forms of breast cancer than anyone else.9

Count Us as Friends: Changing Numbers and Lives
Read the numbers listed above once and they look like statistics. Read them again, and they might look like allies. When all young women affected by breast cancer work together, we can raise awareness, improve our representation in research and make each other stronger. YSC remains dedicated to those goals, working to turn our unique challenges into opportunities for shared success.

1. National Cancer Institute. A Snapshot of Adolescent and Young Adult Cancers. Available here.
2. Archie Bleyer et al., “The distinctive biology of cancer in adolescents and young adults,” Nature Reviews Cancer 8, no. 4 (2008): 288-298. Available here.
3. National Cancer Institute. 2006 Fact Book. Available here.
4. American Cancer Society. Breast Cancer Facts & Figures 2011- 2012. Available here.
5. National Cancer Institute. Surveillance Epidemiology and End Results. SEER Stat Fact Sheets 2013: Breast. Available here.
6. Carey K. Anders et al., “Breast Carcinomas Arising at a Young Age: Unique Biology or a Surrogate for Aggressive Intrinsic Subtypes?,” Journal of Clinical Oncology 29, no. 1 (2011): e18-e20. Available here.

Carey K. Anders et al., “Young Age at Diagnosis Correlates With Worse Prognosis and Defines a Subset of Breast Cancers With Shared Patterns of Gene Expression,” Journal of Clinical Oncology 26, no. 10 (2008): 3324-3330. Available here.
7. Ann H. Partridge et al., “Breast Cancer in Younger Women,” Diseases of the Breast (4th ed.,), In J. Harris (Ed.) (2010): 1073-1083.
8. Carey K. Anders et al., “Breast Cancer Before Age 40 Years,” Seminars in Oncology 36, no. 3 (2009): 237-249. Available here.
9. Lisa A. Carey. et al., “Race, Breast Cancer Subtypes, and Survival in the Carolina Breast Cancer Study,” Journal of the American Medical Association 295, no. 21 (2006): 2492-2502. Available here.


This article is available at –