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Breast Cancer In 20 Year Olds

Are Women Under 40 At Risk For Breast Cancer

8-Year-Old Girl is Breast Cancer Free After Having Double Mastectomy

Younger women generally do not consider themselves to be at risk for breast cancer. However, breast cancer can strike at any age: 5% of breast cancer cases occur in women under 40 years of age. All women should be aware of their personal risk factors for breast cancer.

There are several factors that put a woman at higher risk for developing breast cancer, including:

  • A personal history of breast cancer or a high risk lesion found by biopsy
  • A family history of breast cancer, particularly at an early age
  • A family history that is concerning for a genetic syndrome that may put them at a higher risk for breast cancer
  • History of radiation therapy to the chest
  • A known genetic mutation conferring a high risk for the development of breast cancer
  • Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry

What Is A Young Adult Cancer

There is no strict definition of what separates childhood cancers from cancers in young adults, or when exactly a person is no longer a young adult. But for statistics purposes, cancers in young adults are often thought of as those that start between the ages of 20 and 39.

Cancer is not common in young adults, but a wide variety of cancer types can occur in this age group, and treating these cancers can be challenging.

Most cancers occur in older adults. The most common cancers in older people are cancers of the skin, lung, colon and rectum, breast , and prostate . Many cancers in older adults are linked to lifestyle-related risk factors or to other environmental factors. A small portion are strongly influenced by changes in a persons genes that they inherit from their parents.

Cancers that start in children or in teens are much less common. The types of cancers that develop in children and teens are often different from the types that develop in adults. Childhood cancers are often the result of gene changes that take place very early in life, sometimes even before birth. Unlike many cancers in adults, cancers in children and teens are not strongly linked to lifestyle or environmental risk factors.

The types of cancers that occur in young adults are a mix of many of the types that can develop in children, teens, and older adults.

Symptoms To Be Aware Of

Symptoms of breast cancer, as listed on Coppafeel!, include:

  • Changes in skin texture for example dimpling
  • Swelling in armpit or collarbone area
  • Lumps and thickening of breast area
  • Constant pain in breast or armpit
  • Nipple discharge
  • A sudden, unusual change in size or shape
  • A rash or crusting of the nipple and surrounding area

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Pregnancy During And After Breast Cancer

Pregnant women who receive standard chemotherapies for breast cancer during the second and third trimester have outcomes comparable to non-pregnant breast cancer patients .

The desire for future pregnancy can affect selection of treatment protocol. One multicenter study showed that 19% of young breast cancer patients refused endocrine therapy, or chose one chemotherapy regimen over another, based on the wish to bear children in the future . Pregnancy following a diagnosis of breast cancer does not impact mortality. A large meta-analysis showed a lower relative risk of death among women who bore a child after a breast cancer diagnosis . The POSITIVE study is prospectively evaluating outcomes of pregnancy following breast cancer.

What Is Breast Cancer

Enlarged Lymph Node in 20

Breast cancer is an uncontrolled growth of breast cells. To better understand breast cancer, it helps to understand how any cancer can develop.

Cancer occurs as a result of mutations, or abnormal changes, in the genes responsible for regulating the growth of cells and keeping them healthy. The genes are in each cells nucleus, which acts as the control room of each cell. Normally, the cells in our bodies replace themselves through an orderly process of cell growth: healthy new cells take over as old ones die out. But over time, mutations can turn on certain genes and turn off others in a cell. That changed cell gains the ability to keep dividing without control or order, producing more cells just like it and forming a tumor.

A tumor can be benign or malignant . Benign tumors are not considered cancerous: their cells are close to normal in appearance, they grow slowly, and they do not invade nearby tissues or spread to other parts of the body. Malignant tumors are cancerous. Left unchecked, malignant cells eventually can spread beyond the original tumor to other parts of the body.

Over time, cancer cells can invade nearby healthy breast tissue and make their way into the underarm lymph nodes, small organs that filter out foreign substances in the body. If cancer cells get into the lymph nodes, they then have a pathway into other parts of the body. The breast cancers stage refers to how far the cancer cells have spread beyond the original tumor .

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The Most Common Cancers In Young Adults

The types of cancers seen in young adults are not unique to this age group, but the most common types in this age range are largely different from those in children or older adults.

Some of the most common cancers in young adults are:

  • Colorectal cancer
  • Brain and spinal cord tumors

Even within this age group, some of these cancers become more or less common as people age. For example, lymphomas are more common before age 25, whereas breast, cervical, and colorectal cancers become more common after age 25.

Many other types of cancer can occur in young adults as well.

Diagnosis Of Breast Cancer In Younger Women

There are several ways in which the presentation of breast cancer may differ in women under the age of 40 years compared to its presentation in older women. The majority of young women with breast cancer present with symptoms. Older women are more likely than younger women to present with screen detected breast cancers because of established population mammographic screening in the over 50 age group.

There are several challenges in the diagnosis of breast cancer in young women. Clinical examination and breast imaging may be limited and this may contribute to a delay in diagnosis, which is more common in young women. Clinical breast examination is less sensitive in young women and breast cancer is rare in this group, whereas benign and physiological conditions of the breast are very common. As a result there is an inherently lower level of suspicion for cancer when assessing a young woman with breast symptoms.

Diagnosing breast cancer in younger women is more difficult because the breast tissue is generally denser/thicker than the breast tissue in older women. By the time a lump in a younger womans breast can be felt, the cancer is more often advanced.

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Younger Age At Menarche

Breast cancer risk increases by 5% for each year younger at menarche , a meta-analysis has shown. The association is stronger for oestrogen receptor -positive and progesterone receptor -positive tumours than for ER- and PR-negative tumours. Breast cancer risk may be higher in women whose breast development started at a younger age, a cohort study indicates.

Among BRCA1 mutation carriers too, breast cancer risk may be higher in those who are younger at menarche, a meta-analysis showed among BRCA2 carriers, breast cancer risk is not associated with age at menarche.

Is Breast Cancer Common In 20 Year Old Females

Toledo woman at high risk of breast cancer taking initiative, not chances, with preventative surgery

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Things You Can Change

Fortunately, there are risk factors for breast cancer that are under your control. These factors include:

  • Sedentary lifestyle: Women who are not physically active are at an increased risk of developing breast cancer.
  • Obesity: Older women who are overweight or obese have a higher risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer.
  • Hormone replacement therapy: Women who take hormones such as estrogen or progesterone for over five years during menopause are at higher risk of developing breast cancer. Women who take oral contraceptives may also be at higher risk.
  • Alcohol use: A womans risk of breast cancer may increase with the number of alcoholic drinks she consumes.

What Are The Risk Factors For Breast Cancer

CDCs Dr. Lisa Richardson explains the link between drinking alcoholic beverages and breast cancer risk in this video.

Studies have shown that your risk for breast cancer is due to a combination of factors. The main factors that influence your risk include being a woman and getting older. Most breast cancers are found in women who are 50 years old or older.

Some women will get breast cancer even without any other risk factors that they know of. Having a risk factor does not mean you will get the disease, and not all risk factors have the same effect. Most women have some risk factors, but most women do not get breast cancer. If you have breast cancer risk factors, talk with your doctor about ways you can lower your risk and about screening for breast cancer.

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Risk Factors For Young Women

All women are at risk of developing breast cancer and the risk greatly increases with age with most cases of breast cancer occurring in women over the age of 50. There are a range of factors that can increase breast cancer risk in young women. The causes of breast cancer in young women can include lifestyle factors and non-lifestyle factors . Young women may have an increased risk of breast cancer due to factors such as:

  • Family history A history of breast cancer among relatives is a strong risk factor for young women. A young womans risk of breast cancer is increased if a close relative, like a mother or aunt, has had breast or ovarian cancer. A young womans risk is further increased by the number of relatives affected and if her relatives were diagnosed with cancer at a young age
  • Genetic susceptibility A high proportion of young women diagnosed with breast cancer have inherited mutations in their BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes .
  • Reproductive and hormonal factors- Early menarche increases the risk of breast cancer, and giving birth to the first child at a late age also increases risk.
  • Alcohol intake Regularly drinking alcohol can increase the risk of breast cancer for women of all ages. The risk of breast cancer rises as the number of drinks regularly consumed increases. Currently, there does not appear to be a safe level of regular alcohol consumption.

What Are The Risk Factors

Illustrative Case Reports

Some women are at an increased risk of breast cancer in their 20s or 30s. These risk factors include:

  • having a close family member who was diagnosed with breast cancer before age 50
  • having a close male blood relative with breast cancer
  • having a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation
  • having received radiation treatment to the chest or breast before age 30
  • hormonal factors, such as the early start of menstruation, use of birth control pills, or anovulatory infertility

Other risk factors that apply to women of any age include:

  • having a high percentage of breast tissue that appears dense on a mammogram
  • having had a previous abnormal breast biopsy
  • having had your first menstrual period before age 12
  • having your first full-term pregnancy after age 30
  • never having a full-term pregnancy
  • being physically inactive or overweight
  • being of Ashkenazi Jewish heritage
  • drinking heavy amounts of alcohol

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Women Under 35 Face Higher Risk Of Breast Cancer Spreading Study

Analysis of 400 studies found risk of secondary cancer ranges from 6% to 22% depending on different factors

Women diagnosed with breast cancer under the age of 35 face a higher risk of it spreading, according to the first global study of its kind.

Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer, with 2.3 million people diagnosed every year. Survival rates are generally good, which is largely because of screening, early diagnosis and improved treatment.

However, until now, little has been known about the risk of secondary breast cancer, where the disease spreads to other parts of the body and becomes incurable.

A meta analysis of more than 400 studies has found the risk of breast cancer spreading to another part of the body ranges from 6% to 22%. The results of the study are being presented at the sixth International Consensus Conference for Advanced Breast Cancer .

The findings also suggest certain women face a higher risk, including those diagnosed with breast cancer under the age of 35, those with larger tumours when initially diagnosed and those with specific types of the disease, for example luminal B.

Kotryna Temcinaite, senior research communications manager at the charity Breast Cancer Now, said the analysis provides helpful insight into who is most at risk.

Secondary breast cancer can develop many years after an initial cancer diagnosis, so its vital that we understand it better and find new ways to prevent it.

Pregnancy Diagnosed During Or After Breast Cancer

Studies of pregnancy after a diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer are retrospective and most are case-controlled investigations. Although one study84 showed an increased risk for relapse, most other studies show either no difference in recurrence or a decrease in risk of recurrence.76 Breast cancer survivors and their medical caregivers are advised to fully discuss the risk of recurrence when discussing post-cancer reproductive choices.

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Cancers Of The Female Genital Tract

Cervical cancer tends to occur in midlife. Most often it is found in women younger than 50. It rarely occurs in women younger than 20. Most cervical cancers can be found early, or even prevented, with screening tests. Vaccines against HPV, the virus linked to most cervical cancers, can also help prevent it. The most common symptom of cervical cancer is abnormal vaginal bleeding.

Overall, ovarian cancer is much more common in older women than in women younger than 40. But some less common types of ovarian cancers, known as germ cell tumors, are more common in teens and young women than in older women. Early ovarian cancer usually does not cause symptoms, but some women might feel full quickly when eating or they might have abnormal bloating, belly pain, or urinary symptoms. Women who have any of these symptoms lasting more than a few weeks should see their doctor.

For more information, see Cervical Cancer and Ovarian Cancer.

How Many People Survive 5 Years Or More After Being Diagnosed With Female Breast Cancer

73 Year Old Survives Breast Cancer Three Times

Relative survival is an estimate of the percentage of patients who would be expected to survive the effects of their cancer. It excludes the risk of dying from other causes. Because survival statistics are based on large groups of people, they cannot be used to predict exactly what will happen to an individual patient. No two patients are entirely alike, and treatment and responses to treatment can vary greatly.


U.S. 20162020, All Races, Females

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What’s The Best Way For Younger Women To Screen For Breast Cancer

The American Cancer Society recommends that all women know how their breasts look and feel and report any changes to their doctor. The ACS states that research has not shown a clear benefit of performing regular breast self-exams. Talk with your doctor about the pros and cons of breast self-exam.

Regular breast exams done at least every 3 years by your doctor are recommended for women beginning at age 20. Expert groups donât all agree when women should start getting mammograms and you should discuss with your doctor whatâs right for you. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends screening every 2 years from ages 50 through 74 and also that the decision to start yearly screening mammograms before age 50 should be an individual one..

Talk to your doctor about when you should begin to have mammograms. For younger women, digital mammography may be an alternate to a standard mammogram. Digital mammography is better able to see abnormalities in dense breast tissue.

Expected Cases And Deaths In 2020

In 2020, there will be approximately 89,500 new cancer cases and 9270 cancer deaths in AYAs aged 15 to 39 years in the United States . The distribution of cancers among AYAs varies substantially by age . In particular, adolescents have a unique cancer profile that includes a higher proportion of childhood cancers versus adult cancers compared with those aged 20 to 39 years. The most commonly diagnosed cancers are thyroid cancer, Hodgkin lymphoma, and brain and other nervous system cancers among adolescents thyroid cancer, testicular germ cell tumors , and melanoma of the skin in the group aged 20 to 29 years and female breast cancer, thyroid cancer, and melanoma in those aged 30 to 39 years . Notably, the only commonality among the top 3 sites in each age group is thyroid cancer.

  • Abbreviation: AAPC, average annual percent change.
  • a Fixed-interval trends represent the 10-year AAPC based on 1995 to 2016 incidence rates and 1990 to 2017 mortality rates. AAPCs were calculated allowing up to 4 joinpoints for incidence trends and 5 joinpoints for mortality trends.
  • b The AAPC is statistically significantly different from zero .

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