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Breast. 2015 Nov;24 Suppl 2:S154-8. doi: 10.1016/j.breast.2015.07.036.

Management of breast cancer in very young women.

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Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, United States; Harvard Medical School, United States.
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, United States; Harvard Medical School, United States. Electronic address:


Breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related deaths in women age 40 and younger in developed countries, and although generally improving, survival rates for young women with breast cancer remain lower than for older women. Young women are more likely to develop more aggressive subtypes of breast cancer (more triple negative and more Human Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor 2 [HER2]-positive disease) and present with more advanced stage disease. Previous research has demonstrated that young age is an independent risk factor for disease recurrence and death, although recent data suggest this may not be the case in certain tumor molecular subtypes. Recent preliminary evidence suggests potential unique biologic features of breast cancer that occurs in young women although this has yet to have been translated into treatment differences. There are clearly host differences that affect the management of breast cancer for young patients including generally being premenopausal at diagnosis, and fertility, genetics, and social/emotional issues in particular should be considered early in the course of their care. Despite an increased risk of local recurrence, young age alone is not a contraindication to breast conserving therapy given the equivalent survival seen in this population with either mastectomy or breast conservation. However, many young women in recent years are choosing bilateral mastectomy, even without a known hereditary predisposition to the disease. For those who need chemotherapy, multi-agent chemotherapy and biologic therapy targeting the tumor similar to the treatment in older women is the standard approach. Select young women will do well with hormone therapy only. Recent data from the TEXT and SOFT trials evaluating the optimal endocrine therapy for the first 5 years, and the ATTom and ATLAS trials demonstrating benefit from extended duration of tamoxifen (10 vs. 5 years), have further defined options for adjuvant endocrine therapy for young women with early breast cancer. Attention to adherence with endocrine therapy may be particularly important to improve outcomes in this population who are at increased risk of non-adherence compared to older women.


Age; Breast cancer; Premenopausal; Young women

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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