Risk Factors You Can Change
Being physically active can help lower your risk of getting breast cancer.
- Not being physically active. Women who are not physically active have a higher risk of getting breast cancer.
- Being overweight or having obesity after menopause. Older women who are overweight or have obesity have a higher risk of getting breast cancer than those at a normal weight.
- Taking hormones. Some forms of hormone replacement therapy taken during menopause can raise risk for breast cancer when taken for more than five years. Certain oral contraceptives also have been found to raise breast cancer risk.
- Reproductive history. Having the first pregnancy after age 30, not breastfeeding, and never having a full-term pregnancy can raise breast cancer risk.
- Drinking alcohol. Studies show that a womans risk for breast cancer increases with the more alcohol she drinks.
Research suggests that other factors such as smoking, being exposed to chemicals that can cause cancer, and changes in other hormones due to night shift working also may increase breast cancer risk.
Teen Breast Cancer Outlook
It is estimated by researchers that 80% of teens diagnosed with breast cancer at the ages of 15 to 19 will still be alive 5 years later. Since its extremely rare in teens, doctors may take the approach of wait and see by delaying treatment. Its still important to take appropriate steps in preventing breast cancer like maintaining a healthy weight and diet, avoiding tobacco products, and staying physically active.
What If I Have A Lump In My Breast
As you grow and develop, you will probably notice small lumps and other changes in your breasts. You might also find your breasts are sensitive and tender around the time of your period. If you feel a lump in your breast, don’t panic breast cancer is extremely rare in teens. For teen girls, the most common type of breast lump is usually just part of normal breast growth.
Lots of girls and women have something called fibrocystic breast changes. This is when small fluid-filled cysts in the breasts change size based on where a girl is in her menstrual cycle. Because these cysts have to do with normal hormone changes, they are typically more obvious and may hurt a bit just before a girl’s period. Fibrocystic breast changes are nothing to worry about and don’t need any kind of medical treatment.
Infections also can cause breast lumps. So can an injury to the breast like getting hit in the chest while playing sports.
If you’re worried about a lump in your breast, talk to your doctor. Also call your doctor if you have any of these problems:
- pain in your breast that seems unrelated to your period
- a red, hot, or swollen breast
- fluid or bloody discharge from your nipple
- a lump in your armpit or near your collarbone
Most breast lumps are nothing to worry about, but it always helps to talk to a doctor or nurse about what to expect as your breasts grow. Getting checked out gives you peace of mind.
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Checking Yourself For Breast Cancer
Breast self-exams to check for lumps and other changes can help women detect the early signs of cancer.
Even more important than looking for specific changes is knowing how your breasts feel normally. A change in their shape or texture, a new lump, or other significant change could signal a problem, including cancer.
Women should also get regular breast exams from their doctor. Those at high risk of breast cancer may need annual mammograms, although teens almost never fall into this category.
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.
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Being A Young Adult Or Teen With Cancer
Watch the “Moving Forward” video series for young adults, adapted from this content.
Having cancer as a young adult or teenager is very different from having it as a child or later in life. Getting a diagnosis and treatment can be challenging for many reasons. For example:
If you get sick as a young adult or teen, you or your doctor might not consider cancer as a cause. Cancer is uncommon in teens and young adults, and your symptoms might seem like symptoms of a different condition.
You might not have health insurance. Or you might have difficulty paying for cancer treatment, even with health insurance. Find out more about managing the cost of your cancer care.
You probably have little experience getting medical treatment for a complex condition like cancer. So, it might be challenging to arrange the care you need. Learn more about taking charge of your cancer care.
When To Start Screening
We recommend mammogram screening to start no earlier than age 40 and no later than age 50 for women of average risk for breast cancer, and continue through to at least age 74, says Dr. Andrejeva-Wright. Screening mammography should occur at least once every two years. For women whose screening mammograms show they have dense breasts, an extra testa breast ultrasoundis recommended.
Dr. Andrejeva-Wright says it is important to talk with a health care provider about when you should start getting mammograms, based on your unique health profile, and to make an appointment to see your doctor if you notice any unusual breast changes.
Any time a woman feels a breast mass, which does not go away, while doing a breast self-exam at any age, she should get it checked out, says Dr. Silber.
More than half of the time, women detect breast cancers themselves when they notice an unusual breast change. Whenever there is a new mass or lump, tell your doctorit should be evaluated by a clinical physical examination followed by breast imaging, says Dr. Andrejeva-Wright. Other signs to be aware of include asymmetry of the breasts and nipple changes such as discharge or peeling skin around the nipple.
Says Dr. Andrejeva-Wright, These symptoms dont mean you have breast cancer, but its a reason to seek an opinion from a medical provider.
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How Is Breast Cancer Treated
Treatment for breast cancer usually depends on the type of cancer and whether the cancer has spread outside of the breast to other parts of the body.
Here are some common treatments:
- lumpectomy , which removes the cancerous tumor from the breast. A woman usually has this surgery when the cancer is found early and when the lump is small and in only one part of the breast.
- mastectomy , which removes the whole breast. This surgery is done when cancer cells have spread through the breast or into other parts of the body. It’s a good way to remove all or most of the cancer, and can help prevent the cancer from spreading or coming back. Sometimes, a woman who has a mastectomy may choose to have an operation to reconstruct the breast, so her shape will be more like it was before.
- radiation therapy and chemotherapy, which are often used after lumpectomy or mastectomy to make sure that all the cancer cells are destroyed and do not grow back. Radiation therapy uses high-energy X-rays to kill the cancerous cells. Chemotherapy , or chemo, is special medicine that travels throughout the entire body and kills cancer cells.
Alternative And Complementary Therapies
In addition to medical interventions, you may want to consider complementary therapies, particularly to help manage symptoms as well as side effects from treatment.
Acupuncture, massage, meditation, mindfulness, and visualization may help reduce stress and anxiety, relieve pain, and improve mood.
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Breast Lumps In Adolescents: Causes
- Breast masses in teens are almost always benign .
- Breast cancer is very rare in teens
- Fibroadenoma: most breast masses in teens are fibroadenomas. They are 1 inch oval or round, rubbery, non-tender mass. Most often in upper-outer quadrant of breast. Not associated with breast cancer. Natural course: 50% go away within 5 years, others need removal.
- Juvenile fibroadenomas: breast masses that are larger than 2 inches in size. Benign, but need to be removed by surgery.
- Breast cysts
- Breast abscess: this is a red, painful lump. Main cause is Staph bacteria. Main triggers are nipple injury, nipple piercing or lactation . Needs oral antibiotics and needle removal of the pus.
- Breast collections of blood from injury: may take weeks or months to resolve.
My Breasts Hurt Could This Be Breast Cancer
There are quite a few . Breasts can have growing pains, just like legs. The growth stretches the skin and other tissues causing pain, and because breasts dont always grow evenly, sometimes only one breast hurts.
Another normal reason for pain is something called cyclical breast pain. Many women have breast pain and tenderness, especially before their periods. If you have breast pain, notice when it happens. If it goes away after your period, it is just part of your normal cycle.
A painful spot on your breast could be a sign of an infection, especially if the skin is red. Although this isnt common in teenagers, it can happen. Home remedies probably wont help, so see a doctor.
Breast tenderness can also be an early sign of pregnancy. If there is a possibility that you might be pregnant, take a pregnancy test if you can. There is no age limit to buy pregnancy tests. If its positive, youll need to see a doctor or midwife as soon as possible to discuss next steps.
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Breast Lumps In Teens: Are They Dangerous
by Patient Expert
Teenage girls are usually frightened when they find a lump in their breast. And a girls parents can be even more panicked, rushing their daughter to the doctor to find out if she has breast cancer. Realistically speaking, breast cancer is nearly a statistical impossibility so what causes breast lumps in teens?
Attention, teenage girls : theres very little chance that the lump you feel in your breast is breast cancer.
How little? Well, according to the governments cancer statistics, women between the ages of 15 and 19 are diagnosed with breast cancer at a rate of .2 per 100,000 per year. That translates to two older teens in a million being diagnosed with breast cancer in the U.S. each year.
For younger teens , the risk is even lower. There are so few under-15s diagnosed with breast cancer that they dont show up in the statistics. That means fewer than 1 young teenage American girl in a million receives a breast cancer diagnosis in any particular year.
Cancer can be deadly. And its certainly scary. But for teens, you have to like the odds, right? Theyre certainly better than the 1 in 28 breast cancer risk that older women face.
So now that weve put the unrealistic specter of cancer in its place what about those breast lumps?
Scar tissue from trauma
When to see a doctor
Accessed December 30, 2015..
What Should A Teenage Girl Do If She Finds A Lump In Her Breast
- Loyola University Health System
- If a lump is found in the breast of an adolescent girl, she often will undergo an excisional biopsy. However, breast cancer is rare in adolescents, and the vast majority of teenage breast lumps are benign. A recent study suggests that a breast ultrasound might eliminate the need for biopsy in many cases.
If a lump is found in the breast of an adolescent girl, she often will undergo an excisional biopsy.
However, breast cancer is rare in adolescents, and the vast majority of teenage breast lumps turn out to be benign masses that are related to hormones.
A recent Loyola University Health System study published in the American Journal of Roentgenology suggests that a breast ultrasound examination might eliminate the need for biopsy in many cases.
Loyola radiologists performed ultrasound examinations on 20 girls ages 13 to 19 who had lumps in their breasts, including one girl who had a lump in each breast. The ultrasound studies indicated that 15 of the 21 lumps appeared to be benign, while and six were suspicious.
Follow-up biopsies or clinical examinations found that all 21 lumps were benign. These findings suggest that if a breast ultrasound finds nothing suspicious, the patient likely does not need to have an excisional biopsy, said lead author Dr. Aruna Vade, a professor in the Department of Radiology at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.
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Complications Of Breast Cancer
As with treatment, possible complications of breast cancer depend on the type and stage of breast cancer you have. A number of the complications are side effects from treatment, that continue after treatment stops. Depending on what kind of treatment you’ve had, these can include:
- Menopausal symptoms
- Dental issues
Some patients develop a chronic condition called lymphedema, following treatment. Lymphatic fluid accumulates in the tissues, causing swelling. Lymphedema usually results from removal of or damage to lymph nodes.
Screening For Cancers In Teens
Screening is testing for a disease such as cancer in people who dont have any symptoms. Cancers are not common between ages 15 and 19, so there are no widely recommended screening tests to look for cancer in people in this age group who are not at increased risk.
Some people have a higher risk of developing certain types of cancer because of a strong family history or because they’ve inherited a specific gene mutation from a parent. These might put a person at higher risk for cancers such as melanoma of the skin or colorectal, thyroid, or other cancers. People with these mutations may need careful, regular exams or tests starting at an early age to look for signs of cancer.
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Breast Cancer Doesnt Mean Give Up Your Gym Membership
There was a time when women with breast cancer were told to rest, and exercise was an afterthought. But a growing body of research suggests that a reasonable exercise program not only wont hurt, it might actually benefit patients by relieving treatment-related fatigue, reducing the risk of lymphedema and improve cognitive function, which many women say can be impaired by treatment.
I Was Diagnosed With Breast Cancer For The First Time At Age 16
In this essay, Nikia Hammonds-Blakely talks about being diagnosed with breast cancer at age 16, as told to Brittney McNamara.
I was a sophomore in high school, getting ready for school one morning, when I felt a lump. I was not intentionally trying to do a self breast exam, I was just taking a shower. The lump was in my left breast, and though time passed after I found it, it wasnt going away.
Though I was just 16 years old at the time and had no family history, that lump turned out to be a very rare and aggressive form of breast cancer. So before Id even attended my first prom, my doctor recommended I have a double mastectomy a procedure to remove both of my breasts. I really dont have words for how out of body that moment felt. Id never been to the hospital for anything not so much as a sprained ankle. Everything about my diagnosis was beyond my comprehension. It wasnt like I could go to one of my friends, or even a family member and say, hey girl, how did you deal? I didnt even know it was possible that a teen could get breast cancer. Still, as I sat in my doctors office with my mother, thats what I was told.
This, of course, extended well beyond the prom. I would get undressed and look in the mirror every day, and I saw the disfigurement. I felt like a monster I wondered if anybody would love me I wondered if I would get married, or if I would ever have a child and breastfeed.
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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:
- Breast cancer
- 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.