Younger Women more at risk

I hope you don’t mind me asking but my sister has been diagnosed with st III IDC, from what the docs say its agressive, but the main risk factor in determining her prognosis is that because she is young (23) there is a higher risk of metastasis? Because cells replace more rapidly and hormonal levels are at their highest in younger women there is a greater risk…

I realise that chemo is supposed to be highly effective against aggressive cancers, because of the higher incidence of receptors on the tumor cells… But has anyone heard of the risk factor being higher at a younger age?

Any advice would be great xx

I have looked at the stats and women diagnosed at earlier ages generally do have a higher risk of developing secondary breast cancer. Sorry to tell you. These things are all very general though, some people go on to develop secondary breast cancer some don’t. You can only hope for the best and prepare for the worst, and get the best treatment for your circumstances,


Thanks very much for the info, do you know where i could find these statistics? Can you recommend any decent books or resources?

much appreciated,


Hi Chrisanne

I was given the same information at diagnosis, I can’t recommend any books perse but can tell you that there’s a database called the adjuvant database that is used to recommend treatment after surgery. It indicates that anyone under 35 is treated as at higher risk of metastasis so chemo is gnenerally used (was in my case. I had 2 primary tumours and I’m 33).

The speed of a younger persons metabolism does have one thing going in our favour though, because they have a habit of growing so quickly they’re often found faster too. But I was also told that the risk of another primary breast cancer having had one would be higher, they then found another in my other breast when they ultrasound scanned it a week later so bilateral mastectomy was an obvious and highly sensible choice for me. Both tumours had different hormone responsiveness so they were certainly 2 different cancers.

Hi Chrisanne,

If you would like to give the helpline a ring the staff here will be able to explain about the risks of a secondary diagnosis in younger people and may be able to direct you to some reading material that will help you understand things more clearly. the lines are open Mon to Fri 9am - 5pm and Sat 9am - 2 pm, calls are free, 0808 800 6000

Kind regards,
Jo, Facilitator

if any of you get any more info on this i would be v interested, ive always assumed younger woman would have a higher chance of mets/2nd primary but have struggled getting solid stats/info.
thanks so much again for your previous thougts re bilateral masts by the way vertangie, tho i still cant decide!!
englishc, im really sorry to hear about your sis, i was 23 (24 now) when diagnosed as well, wish you both all the best.

Thanks for the reply. I suppose it really is a good/bad dichotomy, I wasn’t aware that there is a higher risk of another primary tumor, but there has been talk of the propect of a double mastectomy, so that makes a lot of sense.

Do you mind me asking if you have had any gentic tests done? Im 26, I’ve got an appointment in a couple of weeks to get checked out, but my younger bro had leukemia and mum has had cervical cancer twice… scary stuff.

Thanks a lot for the info and advice,


Thanks cesca24, i’ll let you know what info can dig up.


Hi Chrisanne,
My God your family has certainly been through it…scary stuff indeed.
I’m very sorry to read of your sisters diagnosis, wishing her all the best with her treatment and you with your genetic testing.
Please let us know how you both get on.
Claire x

me again, im so sorry as well to hear of all the s**t your family has been through, though if it makes you feel any better i dont think leukemia and cervical cancer are in the same family as those that are associated with the BRCA genes - tho of course they they do think there are other genes they dont kno about yet.
i had the test 6weeks ago, get my results next week… v scared.
i too am up for a bilateral - reccomended because of my age - tho i am still umming over whether to go ahead with both as opposed to one… decisions.
best of luck with the testing - if you have it its just a blood test, nothing scary,
good luck xx

Thanks for the reassurance, this website is really great. My sister has taken her diagnosis really well so far, she’s got a postive attitude and strong character, when she’s not making jokes about it she’s buying mad lookin wigs and researching her prospective boob job…

Still early days though, to think that she went to the doctors 3 months ago with a slight pain in her chest, and now she coming up to her third chemo treatment… life is mental… My parents seem to be coping ok but as you can imagine its a bit of a deja-vu…

Just wondering does anyone have any tips for what relatives can do? Ive been burning funny dvds for her, as shes not really able to focus on books an stuff right now… Im trying to think of things that will help her keep her head busy…

Anyways, thanks a lot for the kind replies,


Funny DVDs are an excellent idea. It’s good to know people are there to support you, even if they do very little. Just having someone listen, do practical things and involve you in things other than cancer treatment is a god send,


Hi Chrisanne

Wow that is a lot for 1 family to deal with. I am having genetic tests done but it takes a long time, up to 6 years to find or not find the brca genes.

My understanding is that if they find the genes you’re at higher risk of breast and ovarian cancer. I’ve not heard of leukemia or cervical cancer being indicators of the gene but it’s still a relatively new area of research really.

Re the bilateral mastectomy. I did still think long and hard about it but the maths for me just convinved me. Because grade 3 tumours have such mutated cells they’re often considered aggressive and can be fast spreading. I personally felt the risk of another tumour develpoing and maybe spreading before being detected was just far too high for me and why not have a pair of matching reconstructed breasts if you’re going to have 1 removed. I personally have chosen not to go for reconstruction but many people are happy with the results.

As for things you can do, yes humor is critical, my best friends are goths and have a similar dark sense of humor to me which has kept me sane. So have movies, especially anything with Ben stiller in it, eg zoolander, dodgeball. Movies that are really really silly. Stand up comedy has helped too. I’m still laughing at some bits from the secret policemans ball the other night and I can’t look at a picture of a panda after watching Tropical thunder at the movies.

They say laughter is the best medicine and it does apparently help your immune system improve so if she does do chemo she’ll need lots of good fun for the second week as your immune system takes a whack around 10 days after the chemo is given.

laughter, my friends and chicken soup got me to the end of that in one piece and still laughing.

Hope you all make it to the other end with sense of humor still intact. we have :slight_smile:


I’m 24 and had my fifth chemo yesterday… dvds are a great idea… I also started to do cross stitch and a bit of knitting to keep me busy but the best way I’ve found to keep me busy is to be taken out for trips here there and everywhere.

The only one thing that really got to me was people not inviting me out anymore if they thought I’d be too ill so they’d ask my family or my boyf… I was slightly mad before the cancer and I’m sure I haven’t lost my mind yet! lol

I hope your sister is doing well… laughter and humour has definatley been the way I’ve got through all this!

Erin x

thanks for the replies, I did a fundraiser a few weeks ago to raise cash to get her an HD camera, she decided when she was first dx that she’d like to make a video diary/documentary about breast cancer. Its been going well so far and the footage is very, er, honest…

Belinda is a bit of a mental one too, she only stopped going out last week, before the cancer she drank and smoked quite a lot and now she can’t stomach it at all.

ErinG: I think your the youngest Ive spoken to that has BC do you mind me asking your dx? (dont worry about it if you dont want to say) My sister will be turning 24 next month and is on her 2nd chemo, we havent encountered anyone her age, seems quite rare. Thanks for the tips, i’ll have to dig out my old knitting needles for her :slight_smile:

Vertangie: Thanks for the movie ideas, I’m gonna get burning after work, hehe saw tropical thunder last week… too funny! my sister will love it :slight_smile:

Of course I don’t mind you asking! I found my lump when I was 23, dx in May this year and managed to get away with the lump and lymph glands removed. My cancer is grade 3 and triple positive so its aggressive but at the same time after treatment I’ll be on Herceptin or a trial drug similar to Herceptin and Tamoxifen which means that I’ll get the works!!! I’m on TAC chemo at the moment, had my 5th one yesterday and just one more after that in 3 weeks and then 5 weeks of radio. I’m also having bone marrow shots to get my blood count up because TAC wipes it out.

Also, in terms of chemo I found the first two felt like they took the longest time ever! It felt like evey 3 weeks was 3 years but they do pick up speed and it goes pretty quickly!

If you have any questions or if your sister wants to talks to anyone of a similar age she is more than welcome too! And I hope your sister has the best bday she can considering the circumstances!

Erin x

hi erin! promise will reply to your message soon…
just on the distraction front i found a no brainer series to watch really helped keep me occupied like the oc or 24. my family brought me a wii for my birthday as well and thats been a really good distraction.
i am also 24 and echo what erin said re if you or your sister have any questions/want to talk to someone, xxx