A breast cancer diagnosis can be difficult for most anyone- young or old, with or without a family history. Early detection is key to successful treatment, however, so awareness is important for women of all ages.
When it comes to treatment, age is not a factor. The same options are available for most everyone, and typically correlate with the stage of the cancer at the time of treatment, the characteristics of the tumor, and the grade of the tumor.
Age does come in, however, in terms of treatment trends. Younger women are more likely to opt for a lumpectomy, while older women are more likely to opt for a mastectomy.
Another factor that affects breast cancer treatments is menopause. While early menopause can occur after chemotherapy in women, postmenopausal breast cancer treatments include aromatase inhibitors, which is something that is not an option in younger patients.
Women under the age of 40 are often concerned about protecting their fertility. Chemotherapy can not only cause early-onset menopause, but can damage the ovaries and in some cases, can cause amenorrhea, further reducing pregnancy chances. This is why many women opt to preserve their fertility after a cancer diagnosis through egg freezing.
Early detection is key to breast cancer survival. Yearly checkups and open dialogue with your physician can help with early detection. While only 5% of women diagnosed with breast cancer are under the age of 40, cancer does not discriminate. Know your family history. Perform self-checkups, and talk to your friends and family members, urging them to do the same.