Some people are more likely to develop breast cancer at a younger age, so it’s important to be aware of your individual risk. Certain types of breast cancer may also be more likely.

According to the National Cancer Insititute, the average 30-year-old American woman has a 1 in 204 chance of receiving a breast cancer diagnosis within the next 10 years.

By age 40, this risk increases to 1 in 65, and by age 70, this risk is 1 in 24.

Although the odds of female breast cancer are much lower for younger people, it’s still possible. Approximately 12,150 cases will be diagnosed in people ages 40 or under this year.

When breast cancer is diagnosed at a younger age, it’s more likely to be aggressive and to spread quickly.

Regular mammograms usually aren’t recommended until age 45, which can delay diagnosis in some people. When mammograms are performed, breast tissue density can interfere with the results.

The younger you are, the more breast tissue you likely have. This usually means your breasts are more dense. It can be difficult to distinguish between fibrous breast tissue and abnormal masses during a mammogram.

Read on to learn about some of the unique challenges young people with breast cancer face and what to do if you’ve been diagnosed.

You may be more likely to get diagnosed with breast cancer at an early age if you have a mother, sister, or another close relative who was diagnosed with breast cancer before age 45.

You may also have a higher risk of diagnosis if you have the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation. The BRCA genes help fix damaged DNA. When they’re altered, the DNA in the cells can change in ways that lead to cancer. Experts link these mutations to an increased risk for breast and ovarian cancers.

Breast cancers that arise from BRCA mutations are more likely to start early and to be more aggressive. Up to 72% of people with the BRCA1 mutation and up to 69% with a BRCA2 mutation will develop breast cancer by 70–80 years of age.

Treatment with radiation to the chest or breast as a child or teenager can also increase your risk.

Younger people are more likely to have higher-grade and hormone receptor-negative female breast cancers.

Higher-grade tumors look very different from healthy cells. They divide quickly and are more likely to spread. They often respond well to treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation, which destroy quickly dividing cells.

Hormone receptor-negative cancers don’t need the hormones estrogen and progesterone to grow. Unlike hormone receptor-positive cancers, they can’t be treated with hormone therapies such as tamoxifen and aromatase inhibitors.

Hormone receptor-negative cancers tend to grow more quickly than hormone receptor-positive cancers.

Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) doesn’t respond to estrogen and progesterone. It also doesn’t respond to a protein called human epidermal growth factor receptor 2.

TNBC is more common in younger people and people who are African-American. It also has lower survival rates.

Your doctor will help you choose the most effective breast cancer treatment based on the type, stage, and grade of your tumor. Treatments are generally the same for all ages, but a few exceptions exist.

Drugs called aromatase inhibitors aren’t recommended for people who haven’t yet gone through menopause. These drugs treat estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer by blocking the enzyme aromatase.

Aromatase converts the hormone androgen into estrogen. Without estrogen, the tumor can’t grow.

If you have ovaries and haven’t gone through menopause, your ovaries still produce estrogen. This means that aromatase inhibitors will only work if you also take medication to stop your ovaries from making estrogen.

If medically feasible, you may opt for a more conservative surgery, such as a lumpectomy. This removes the tumor but keeps the breast intact. Chemotherapy, radiation, or both are usually necessary after a lumpectomy.

If you need to have a mastectomy, which removes the whole breast, you can ask your surgeon to try and preserve your nipple. If you plan to have plastic surgery afterward to reconstruct your breast, this can enable your plastic surgeon to create a more natural-looking breast.

Breast cancer treatment can affect your fertility. Both chemotherapy and radiation can damage cells in your ovaries that produce healthy eggs. This damage can make it harder for you to get pregnant.

Hormone therapies such as tamoxifen can make your periods come less often or stop entirely. This can also stop you from getting pregnant.

Sometimes, the damage to your fertility is temporary. You may be able to get pregnant after your treatment ends. In other cases, this damage is permanent.

Some breast cancer treatments affect your desire to have sex. You may feel too nauseous or tired to be intimate. Cancer can be so emotionally overwhelming that you find it hard to connect with a partner physically.

If you know you want to conceive a child, talk with a fertility specialist about your options before starting treatment. One option is to freeze your eggs or fertilized embryos and store them until you’ve finished treatment.

You can also take a drug such as leuprolide (Lupron) or goserelin (Zoladex). These drugs shut down your ovaries during chemotherapy treatment to protect them from damage.

The general outlook for people with breast cancer has improved dramatically in the last few decades.

The 5-year survival rate when this cancer is diagnosed while it’s localized to the breast is 99%. When the cancer is diagnosed after it has spread to nearby structures or lymph nodes, this rate is 86%.

Clinical trials are testing new treatments that could improve survival odds even more.

Learn all you can about your cancer so you can make informed choices about your treatment. Ask your doctor how your age may affect your treatment options and the impact they may have.

Look for resources for young people with breast cancer, such as Living Beyond Breast Cancer and Young Survival Coalition.

Seek help when you need it. Friends and family members can help you get through your diagnosis and treatment. You may also benefit from seeing a counselor to discuss the emotional impact of your diagnosis.