If you have been diagnosed with breast cancer as a young woman, you face many special challenges. In addition to the stress of dealing with this disease at an early age, you may be worried about how treatment will affect your ability to have or raise children, finish schooling, or manage your career. MSK’s Young Women with Breast Cancer program is tailored to women age 45 and younger. Our mission is to provide comprehensive care, support, education, and research for young women diagnosed with this disease. We are particularly focused on long-term health and quality of life.
MSK is a world-renowned cancer center that is accessible to our local community and beyond. Each year, thousands of young women with breast cancer come to MSK for treatment. Our team of specialists will work with you to develop the best evidence-based treatment plan, as well as help you manage all aspects of your physical and emotional needs.
A Note from the Program Directors
We realize there is a clear need to improve the health and quality of life for young women with breast cancer. We will provide a roadmap guiding you through every challenge every step of the way.
Our team of specialists has expertise in all types of breast cancer therapy, and MSK is a leader in clinical trials and cooperative group studies. As our patient, you will have access to cutting-edge research that will potentially improve outcomes for you and other young women in the future.
We have devoted our lives to helping people with breast cancer. We understand you are much more than your diagnosis and want to feel vibrant and strong again. We are here for you.
Mary L. Gemignani, MD
Shari Goldfarb, MD
How We Support Younger Patients with Breast Cancer
Screening and Diagnosis
We can help young women check for any early signs of breast cancer with screening mammograms. This is especially important if you have dense breasts, which may increase breast cancer risk.
Understanding Family History
Women who develop breast cancer at a young age may have inherited a genetic mutation that increases their risk for the disease. Genetic testing and counseling can help you identify whether you have a mutation, how this can guide your treatment, and what it means for your family members.
A cancer diagnosis does not mean you can’t get pregnant. Our Cancer and Fertility Program, run by our fertility nurse specialists, will work closely with you to help you preserve your fertility before, during, and after treatment if you want to start a family or have more children in the future. We will guide you through various fertility preservation options whether you are newly diagnosed or have completed cancer treatment.
Sexual Heath and Intimacy
Cancer treatment can affect your sexual health and interest in sexual activity. Our experts — doctors, nurse practitioners, social workers, and psychologists — provide personalized care to address your concerns. Our dedicated Female Sexual Medicine & Women’s Health Program can help with physical symptoms and emotional challenges that may affect your sex life.
In addition, this MSK podcast episode, A Woman’s Guide to Sex and Cancer, includes an honest and frank conversation about the impact of treatment on a woman’s physical and emotional sexual health.
Breast cancer and its treatment can impact your feelings about your body. Our surgical specialists are experts in breast surgery and all types of breast reconstruction. We also provide emotional support to ease any feelings of anxiety, stress, or sense of loss related to breast surgery.
Coping with Side Effects
Our specialists have great skill in helping women manage side effects of treatment, including lymph node biopsy and adjuvant therapies such as chemotherapy and radiation. For people receiving chemotherapy, we offer scalp cooling to reduce hair loss and methods for managing nausea. Our experts also can use advanced tests to help determine whether you actually need chemotherapy.
Our Integrative Medicine Service provides an array of complementary therapies that address chronic issues such as pain, neuropathy, fatigue and insomnia, stress, anxiety, mobility, and more. This includes complementary medicine such as acupuncture, acupressure, massage, Reiki, exercise and yoga classes.
Nutrition and Eating Well
Our food and nutrition team can help you maintain a healthy diet during breast cancer treatment, as well as eating in a way that reduces your risk for the disease. They will help you understand and cope with nutritional challenges related to cancer treatment, including managing possible digestion problems and changes in taste.
Rehabilitation and Staying Active
Our Rehabilitation Medicine team guides you in recovering from the effects of treatment, including helping you regain mobility after surgery and managing treatment-related lymphedema. In addition, research shows that exercise can help with recovery from breast cancer and minimize the long-term effects of some treatments. MSK has done pioneering research on the benefits of staying active after diagnosis.
Counseling, Support Services and Resources
A breast cancer diagnosis is a physically and emotionally challenging time. We have many services dedicated to helping you through your journey. Our experts can provide counseling and support to help you and your family manage anxiety and other emotional difficulties of breast cancer and its treatment. We offer support groups and programs – both in person and virtual – that you can join to meet other women going through a similar experience or to provide guidance to others.
Social workers are an integral part of our care team and can provide you with information about how to speak about your diagnosis with family members (e.g., children, parents), work colleagues, and friends. You can have an individual consultation to address your needs, which can either be one time or ongoing. Our social workers can also help address your financial concerns.
The Latest Research
Join a Clinical Trial
- Serum Biomarkers to Characterize the Effects of Therapy on Ovarian Reserve in Premenopausal Women with Early-stage Breast Cancer or BRCA Mutations
- A Long-Term Study of Sexual and Reproductive Health in Women with Breast Cancer and Lymphoma
- A Feasibility Study of Flibanserin in Breast Cancer Survivors on Tamoxifen and Aromatase Inhibitors
- Safety of Lower Scalp Cooling Temperature to Prevent Hair Loss From Chemotherapy in Breast Cancer Patients
- A Translational Research Program to Test the Immunological Recognition of Tumors Produced in Li-Fraumeni Patients (TP53)
Studies & Publications
- Murphy CG, Mallam D, Stein S, Patil S, Howard J, Sklarin N, Hudis CA, Gemignani ML, Current or recent pregnancy is associated with adverse pathologic features but not impaired survival in early breast cancer Seidman AD.Cancer. 2012 Jul 1;118(13):3254-9. doi: 10.1002/cncr.26654. Epub 2011 Nov
- Goldfarb S, Abramsohn E, Andersen B, Baron S, Carter J, Dickler M, Florendo J, Freeman L, Githens K, Kushner D, Makelarski J, Yamada D, Lindau S. Convening a National Network to Advance the Field of Cancer and Female Sexuality. Journal of Sexual Medicine. February 2013 10(2):319-25.
- Goldfarb S, Mulhall J, Nelson C, Kelvin J, Dickler M, Carter J. Sexual and Reproductive Health in Cancer Survivors. Semin Oncol. 2013 Dec: 40(6):726-44.
- Goldfarb S, Kamer S, Oppong B, Eaton A, Patil S, Junqueira M, Olcese C, Kelvin J, Gemignani ML. Fertility Preservation for the Young Breast Cancer Patient. Annals of Surgical Oncology. 2016 May 23(5): 1530-6
- Kelvin J, Thom B, Benedict C, Carter J, Corcoran S, Dickler M, Margolies A, Noy A, Goodman K, Goldfarb S. Cancer and Fertility Program Improves Patient Satisfaction With Information Received. J Clin Oncol. 2016 May 20;34(15):1780-6.
Stabile C*, Goldfarb S*, Baser RE, Goldfrank DJ, Abu-Rustum NR, BarakatRR, Dickler MN, Carter J. Sexual Health Needs and Educational Intervention Preferences for Women with Cancer. Breast Cancer Research and Treatment. 2017 Aug;165(1):77-84. [PMID: 2854765]
- *Shared first authorship
- Carter J, Lacchetti C, Andersen BL, Barton DL, Bolte S, Damast S, Diefenbach MA, DuHamel K, Florendo J, Ganz PA, Goldfarb S, Hallmeyer S, Kushner DM, Rowland JH. Interventions to Address Sexual Problems in People With Cancer: American Society of Clinical Oncology Clinical Practice Guideline Adaptation of Cancer Care Ontario Guideline. J Clin Oncol. 2017 Dec 11
- Carter J, Goldfarb S, Baser RE, Goldfrank DJ, Seidel B, Milli L, Saban S, Stabile C, Canty J, Gardner GJ, Jewell EL, Sonoda Y, Kollmeier M, Alektiar KM. A Single-arm Clinical Trial Investigating the Effectiveness of a Non-hormonal, Hyaluronic Acid-Based Vaginal Moisturizer in Endometrial Cancer Survivors. Gynecologic Oncology. Volume 158, Issue 2, August 2020, pages 366-374.
- Crown A, Muhsen S, Zabor EC, Sevilimedu V, Kelvin J, Goldfarb S, Gemignani ML. Does Use of Neoadjuvant Chemotherapy Affect the Decision to Pursue Fertility Preservation Options in Young Women with Breast Cancer? Ann Surg Oncol. Nov 27 2020 (12): 4740-4749.
- Goldfarb S, Turan V, Bedoschi G, Taylan E, Abdo N, Cigler T, Bang H, Patil S, Dickler MN, Oktay KH. Impact of Adjuvant Chemotherapy or Tamoxifen-alone on the Ovarian Reserve of Young Women with Breast Cancer. Breast Cancer Research and Treatment. Sep 15 2020.
- Walsh SM, Zabor EC, Flynn J, Stempel M, Morrow M, Gemignani ML. Breast cancer in young black women. Br J Surg. 2020 May;107(6):677-686. doi: 10.1002/bjs.11401. Epub 2020 Jan 24.
- Tadros AB, Moo TA, Stempel M, Zabor EC, Khan AJ, Morrow M. Axillary management for young women with breast cancer varies between patients electing breast-conservation therapy or mastectomy. Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2020 Feb;180(1):197-205. doi: 10.1007/s10549-019-05520-5. Epub 2020 Jan 14. PMCID: PMC7035176
- Billena C, Wilgucki M, Flynn J, Modlin L, Tadros A, Razavi P, Braunstein LZ, Gillespie E, Cahlon O, McCormick B, Zhang Z, Morrow M, Powell S, Khan AJ. 10-Year Breast Cancer Outcomes in Women ≤35 Years of Age. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2021 Mar 15;109(4):1007-1018. doi: 10.1016/j.ijrobp.2020.10.022. Epub 2020 Oct 24. PMCID: PMC8006530
The MSK Young Women with Breast Cancer program is privileged to have a multidisciplinary advisory committee of specialists.
George Plitas, MD
Audree Tadros, MD
Neil Iyengar, MD
Breast Medicine/ MSK Optimum Living Program
Andrea Cercek, MD
MSK Center for Young Onset Colorectal Cancer
Julia Brockway-Marchello, MD
Breast Medicine/Regional Network
Zsofia Stadler, MD
Oliver Zivanovic, MD, PhD
Kara Long Roche, MD
Atif Khan, MD
Jonas Nelson, MD
Janice Sung, MD
Nicole Saphier, MD
Jeanne Carter, PhD
Sexual Health /Psychology
Monique James, MD
Roz Kleban, MS
Social Work Services
Rose Semler, NP
MSK NP Fertility Program
Mark Robson, MD
Monica Morrow, MD, FACS
Larry Norton, MD
Your generosity will advance MSK’s efforts to improve the long-term health and quality of life for young women diagnosed with breast cancer.