Breast Cancer strikes women of all backgrounds, races, ethnicities and ages; however, certain populations are not only more vulnerable to this disease but are also at risk for higher mortality  rates.

Ashkenazi Jewish women and young African-American women have an increased risk of breast cancer. Ashkenazi women are at greater risk for carrying the BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations which significantly increases their risk for breast cancer. Women with BRCA1 and BRCA2 abnormalities are at increased risk of developing ovarian cancer. The lifetime risk is about 55% for women with BRCA1 mutations and about 25% for women with BRCA2 mutations.   Caucasian women have a slightly higher risk than African- American women. African- American women with breast cancer have a higher risk of dying from the cancer because they are more likely to have an aggressive form of the disease.     While the focus is on women, men also have BRCA gene mutations and are at increased risk of developing breast cancer. While women with BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations have a lifetime breast cancer risk of up to 80%, the risk, though much less lower, does exist for men. The lifetime breast cancer risk for men with BRCA2 mutations is about 5% to 10%. BRCA1 plays a role in only a small amount of male breast cancers, but it is more common in Jewish men. 

Breast Cancer is still the leading cause of cancer deaths among all women under the age of 45. This is in part due to the lack of awareness and education in that age group.  Breast cancer in young women is more aggressive, and delays in diagnosis and treatment can have serious and deadly consequences.  Breast cancer education and awareness, which includes encouraging women to talk to their health care professional about individual risk and an appropriate  screening plan, are vital keys to increasing survival rate when struck with this disease. Young women faced with breast cancer also have unique challenges since they are in their prime childbearing years and may need fertility counseling, family counseling, genetic counseling, and social and psychological support.

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