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Specialized programs to support young women with breast cancer

Villarreal-Garza, Cynthia; Martinez-Cannon, Bertha Alejandra; Platas, Alejandra; Ramos-Elias, Pier

Current Opinion in Supportive and Palliative Care: September 2015 - Volume 9 - Issue 3 - p 308–316
doi: 10.1097/SPC.0000000000000155

Purpose of review Because of the recognized impact of breast cancer and its treatment on a young woman's life, initiatives are being established worldwide. The main aim of this review was to describe existing specialized programs that support young women with breast cancer (YWBC), advances to date, current challenges and future actions.

Recent findings Current programs for YWBC are now educating professionals, patients, and communities on their specific needs. Also, support groups have helped break isolation and connect YWBC together. Research on biology, treatment, adverse effects, risk factors, genetics, and social aspects on YWBC is now being actively conducted. In low- and middle-income countries, the particular issues of young women are, however, still not systematically addressed, because of scarce funding, lack of awareness of YWBC needs, and deficient provider training.

Summary Practice guidelines and algorithms should be disseminated and available for their widespread use to allow standard clinical and supportive care for YWBC even in oncologic centers where no specific programs exist. Also, cancer centers should formally commit to financing, at least partially, dedicated services, and existing programs for YWBC, guaranteeing their continuity. Finally, interinstitutional and international collaborations should be encouraged to facilitate adequately powered research, to avoid repetitive efforts, and to promote knowledge sharing and translation.

aCentro de Cancer de Mama del Hospital Zambrano Hellion, Tecnologico de Monterrey, San Pedro Garza Garcia, Nuevo Leon

bDepartamento de Investigacion y de Tumores Mamarios del Instituto Nacional de Cancerologia, Mexico City

cEscuela de Medicina, Tecnologico de Monterrey, Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico

Correspondence to Cynthia Villarreal-Garza, MD, PhD, Escuela de Medicina, Tecnologico de Monterrey, Av. Morones Prieto No. 3000 Pte., Col. Los Doctores, C.P. 64710 Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico. Tel: +52 (81) 8888 2223; e-mail:

1 Villarreal-Garza and Martinez-Cannon are to be considered first authors, as they both contributed equally to this review.

Copyright © 2015 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.