Get access to Books and publications on young women and breast cancer
Read stories about young women who have survived breast cancer

View statistics on breast cancer on the AIHW site.

View survival data on breast cancer on the AIHW site.

View current evidence-based research on risk factors on the National Breast Cancer Centre site.



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Young women and breast cancer

About Breast Cancer in Young Women

Many young women who have breast cancer ignore it as they think "I am too young to get breast cancer". The risk of breast cancer in young women is quite low, but it is a risk. Of new cases in 1997 in Australia:

  • 66 or 0.67% of total new cases were in women under 30.
  • 563 cases or 5.6 % were in women under 40.

The survival rate in young women is slightly lower than in older women. The table below shows statistics on survival by age group.

Age group
Survival (1988-1992)

Note whenever we look at statistics, because of the work required to verify them, even the most current statistics are often a few years old. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare provides the most up-to-date national statistics for breast cancer. For information about breast cancer in your state contact your state Cancer Council on 13 11 20.

The earlier breast cancer is diagnosed:

  • the greater the chance of survival,
  • the less likely the need for chemotherapy, and
  • the more chance there is of saving most of the breast

There are also a number of options for breast reconstruction if a mastectomy is required.

Answering your questions

Julie Phelan a young breast cancer survivor was 29 and on her own when she was diagnosed and had a mastectomy. Several years later she is engaged to be married and doing well.

Julie has put together some questions she asked, given her answers and also provided some tips she found useful in dealing with her diagnosis and in getting on with life after her mastectomy. These questions include:

  • What about my appearance?
  • Will I have to have a mastectomy?
  • Can I still have children?
  • Will I have an early menopause?
  • How will it affect my sexuality?
  • What will I feel?

Read Julie's answers using this link

Learn more about

Breast reconstruction
Nipple Reconstruction
Familial Breast Cancer

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