Care guidelines

Are you a young woman who’s been diagnosed with breast cancer?

Due to your age and life-stage, as a young woman with breast cancer, you have unique care needs that differ from older patients. Our research shows that, unfortunately, these needs are not always properly addressed.

We give a care about the needs of young women with breast cancer.

Rethink Breast Cancer’s guidelines provide information about key issues you may want to discuss with your healthcare providers involved in your breast cancer treatment and care. They are recommendations on the kind of information and support to which you should be given access as a younger woman with breast cancer.

Care Guidelines for young women with breast cancer

As a young woman with breast cancer you should:

  1. Receive treatment and care from healthcare professionals who are sensitive to the unique needs and concerns that you may face as a younger woman with breast cancer.
  2. Have a full family history taken as soon as possible with respect to inherited cancer risk. If appropriate, you should be offered a referral to a genetic specialist for counselling and testing.
  3. Be given an explanation of the risk of menstrual irregularity or early menopause as a result of some treatments as well as the potential impact on bone health, sexual health, mental function and body weight and image. Where appropriate, you should be given support and resources on coping with the physical and emotional impact of an early menopause or the menopausal side effects of treatment.
  4. Be given a full explanation during initial treatment planning about the possible impact of treatment on fertility, including support/resources for contraception and pregnancy after treatment. If appropriate, receive options for preserving fertility by a specialist, including information about the chances of success from fertility treatment and the possible impact of delaying breast cancer treatment by the appropriate specialist.
  5. Be offered counselling if you are diagnosed with breast cancer during pregnancy or within a year of giving birth to help you cope with the impact this has on you and your family. If you have to be treated with chemotherapy during pregnancy you should have access to a specialist with experience in this area.
  6. Be informed, if needed, about any community-based resources to help you with childcare arrangements during your treatment and recovery, or support services available to help other family members cope.
  7. Have the opportunity to discuss some of the complex life decisions you may be facing in a supportive environment with a skilled counsellor, especially if you are having difficulty coping with making major life decisions sooner than you expected.
  8. Be fully informed about choices around breast reconstruction – the different options for reconstruction or opting out of reconstruction, risks and the reality of the look and feel of “new breasts.”
  9. Be given, if needed, the opportunity to be put in touch with community agencies to discuss the financial implications associated with breast cancer, including employment rights, benefit plans, coping with a loss of income and implications for mortgage and insurance.
  10. Have the opportunity to be connected with other young women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer and be told about long-term sources of support post- treatment.

Read Rethink’s Care Guidelines for Young Women here!

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If you are a healthcare provider, care-giver or someone looking to make change for young women with breast cancer, download the Care Guidelines and find out how you can make them available at more healthcare centers across Canada by contacting us at

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50 Carroll Street Toronto, Ontario Canada M4M 3G3
Phone: 416 220 0700
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