The number of younger women diagnosed with breast cancer has topped 10000 a year for the first time according to news stories today.

The figure is based on new statistics published by Cancer Research UK which show that one in five breast cancers is now in women under 50.

The good news however is that fewer women under 50 now die from breast cancer mainly because of better treatment.

Why is breast cancer increasing in women under 50?

According to Cancer Research UK the exact reason for the rise is unknown.

However they suggest that increasing alcohol consumption or having fewer children and having them later in life (which can have an effect on hormones in the body) may play a part.

Commenting on the statistics Tara Beaumont Clinical Nurse Specialist at Breast Cancer Care said: ‘The increasing incidence of breast cancer in women under 50 reflects the growing incidence overall.

'Though it is not fully understood why rates of breast cancer in this age group are rising it is extremely encouraging to see a continuation of the downward trend in breast cancer mortality.

'Prompt detection of breast cancer can lead to more effective treatments so we encourage all women to be breast aware getting to know what is normal for them so they can spot and report any unusual changes to their GP immediately.'

Find out what changes to look and feel for.

How can a breast cancer diagnosis affect younger women?

While today’s figures show the number of breast cancers in women under 50 is rising the majority of breast cancers still occur in women over 50. This means that being diagnosed at a younger age can be a very isolating experience.

For instance younger women will be less likely to meet other women of their age in a similar situation when attending clinic appointments.

In addition younger women may face a number of issues related to breast cancer treatment such as fertility problems menopausal symptoms or early menopause body confidence issues and effects on their sex life and relationships.

And then of course there’s the emotional impact of being diagnosed with a potentially life-threatening illness at a young age.

Breast Cancer Care’s booklet Younger women with breast cancer outlines the different issues feelings and experiences a younger woman diagnosed with breast cancer may face.

Where can younger women find support?

Many younger women find support in talking to other people in a similar situation on our online Discussion Forum.

Breast Cancer Care also runs regular Younger Women’s Forums where women can meet others in a similar situation and find support and information on a range of topics from menopausal symptoms to relationships and intimacy.

Our One-to-One Support service can also put women in touch with someone of a similar age who understands what they’re going through.

Read Breast Cancer Care’s comment on the new statistics.