Breast cancer (Breast cancer types) is the most common type of cancer and second leading cause of cancer-related death in women, in the United States.
However, little is known about breast cancer in women in their early 40s and younger.
Ann Partridge, MD, MPH, who founded and directs the Program for Young Women with Breast Cancer at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, says that evidence shows that young age is a risk factor for disease recurrence and death.
It is controversial whether the poorer prognosis is a reflection of delays in diagnosis, differences in tumor biology, or the effectiveness of treatment, but accumulating evidence indicates that biologic differences may play an important role.
“In addition to being at higher risk of dying from breast cancer than older women, young women with breast cancer are at increased risk of psychosocial distress at diagnosis and in follow-up when compared with older women,” explains Partridge.
“Young women with breast cancer face a variety of unique medical and psychosocial concerns as a result of their diagnosis and subsequent treatment. In particular, fertility (increase fertility) and family planning, menopausal symptoms, and sexual functioning are of great concern to this patient population.”
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