Breast cancer that occurs in younger women is likely to be more aggressive and to require more intensive therapies with increased risk of long-term treatment-related toxicities. The unique and significant challenges and psychosocial concerns faced by women with breast cancer who are younger than 40 years are discussed in the Journal of Adolescent and Young Adult Oncology (2015; doi:10.1089/jayao.2014.0049).
The authors described young women affected by breast cancer as an “understudied population,” as they are under-represented in clinical trials. As a result, robust data on the biologic, clinical, and psychosocial aspects of breast cancer in young women are lacking, and such data are needed to develop better interventions that can lead to improved patient outcomes. In addition, better awareness of the unique issues faced by young women with breast cancer will improve psychosocial interventions.
The article summarizes the Young Survival Coalition Research Think Tank Meeting, held in Arlington, Virginia. The meeting focused on six broad categories of investigation that crucially need advances: risk factors, treatment, fertility, pregnancy-associated breast cancer, quality of life and survivorship, and metastasis.
The meeting participants also felt that a large-scale data registry is needed to collect data focused on breast cancer in younger women. While retrospective analyses would be helpful, the participants felt that they would not provide sufficient information to draw strong conclusions. A targeted, prospective registry could collect demographic and risk factor information, treatment records, biospecimens, psychosocial data, and long-term outcomes.
The meeting led to the formulation of the Young Survival Coalition’s Research Agenda. The Young Survival Coalition had convened the expert meeting.