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Breast Cancer in Young Women: What Can I Do to Reduce My Risk?

Photo of a woman speaking to her doctor

Breast cancer in a woman under the age of 45 is relatively rare compared to older women, but some women have higher risk for this disease. If you’re a woman in this age group, 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 you have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer or other risk factors, you should talk to your doctor about ways to manage your risk. If your risk is high, your doctor may suggest that you get genetic counseling and be tested for changes, called mutations, 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.

Aside from genetics, little is known about what causes breast cancer in women under age 45, but you can do other things to reduce your risk for breast cancer.