Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Breast Cancer Health Center

Font Size

Christina Applegate Seeks Early Detection for Breast Cancer

Inspired by her own battle with cancer, the actress fights to help young women at high risk for the disease.

Risk Factors for Early Breast Cancer

The doctor who helped Applegate decide on her mastectomy was Philomena McAndrew, MD, a medical oncologist with the Tower Hematology/Oncology Group in Los Angeles and associate medical director for breast oncology at the Saul and Joyce Brandman Breast Center at Cedars-Sinai. She says all young women --not just those at high risk, like Applegate -- need to be vigilant about breast cancer.

"Young women have to know they're not somehow protected from getting breast cancer until they're older," McAndrew says. "Christina, of course, faced a higher risk because of her family history [and genetic mutation], but even among women with no family history, we're seeing increasing risk of breast cancer in younger populations.

"There are a variety of reasons for this, including later first pregnancies, an increase in obesity, environmental exposures to things like hormones, and other factors -- things that have stimulated the proliferation of breast tissue more today than 100 years ago."

Scientists are still debating about some of these factors, such as whether exposure to chemicals in the environment that contain or mimic estrogen can lead to breast cancer. But there's little debate that a woman who has her first child in her 20s is more protected against breast cancer than one who doesn't get pregnant until her 30s.

"I know a girl whose cancer was found at stage III," says Applegate. "She'd gone in a year earlier feeling a lump, and the doctor told her it was probably just a calcium deposit and did no tests. If she'd had it taken out then, maybe it would have been a stage I cancer. Now it's in her lymph nodes, and she's dealing with a much worse situation."

Many young women involved in the Young Survival Coalition, an organization for young women with breast cancer, report similar experiences -- finding a lump or another suspicious change in their breast and being told by doctors that they're "too young for breast cancer."

Applegate's Mastectomy

Cancer has changed Applegate's life in many ways. She's become much more vigilant about her health in general. She has adopted a macrobiotic diet that she says offers her the reassurance that everything she's putting in her body is as healthy as possible.

Today on WebMD

Breast Cancer Overview
From self-exams and biopsies to reconstruction, we’ve got you covered.
Dealing with breast cancer
Get answers to your questions.
woman having mammogram
Experts don’t agree on all fronts, but you can be your own advocate.
woman undergoing breast cancer test
Many women worry. But the truth? Most abnormalities aren’t breast cancer.
Breast Cancer Treatments Improving
Resolved To Quit Smoking
Woman getting mammogram
Screening Tests for Women
ovarian cancer overview slideshow
serious woman
what is your cancer risk
10 Ways to Revitalize Slideshow