Breast Lumps In Teenagers
It can be normal to feel lumps when your breasts are developing and these often disappear on their own.
If a lump causes you any discomfort, appears to get bigger or youre worried about it, talk to someone such as your GP. You may also want to talk to someone in your family or a school nurse.
Although its very unlikely that theres anything wrong, a doctor can check it out and should put your mind at rest. You can ask to see a female doctor or the practice nurse if this will make you feel more comfortable.
Very occasionally lumps are a sign of a benign breast condition. Benign means harmless, and a benign condition will not become a breast cancer. The most common benign lump as the breasts are developing is known as a fibroadenoma.
Family History Of Breast Cancer And Inherited Genes
Some people have a higher risk of developing breast cancer than the general population because other members of their family have had particular cancers. This is called a family history of cancer.
Having a mother, sister or daughter diagnosed with breast cancer approximately doubles the risk of breast cancer. This risk is higher when more close relatives have breast cancer, or if a relative developed breast cancer under the age of 50. But most women who have a close relative with breast cancer will never develop it.
UK guidelines help GPs to identify people who might have an increased risk of cancer due to their family history.
Types Of Breast Cancer
There are several different types of breast cancer, which develop in different parts of the breast.
Breast cancer is often divided into either:
- non-invasive breast cancer found in the ducts of the breast which has not spread into the breast tissue surrounding the ducts. Non-invasive breast cancer is usually found during a mammogram and rarely shows as a breast lump.
- invasive breast cancer where the cancer cells have spread through the lining of the ducts into the surrounding breast tissue. This is the most common type of breast cancer.
Other, less common types of breast cancer include:
- invasive lobular breast cancer
- inflammatory breast cancer
It’s possible for breast cancer to spread to other parts of the body, usually through the blood or the axillary lymph nodes. These are small lymphatic glands that filter bacteria and cells from the mammary gland.
If this happens, it’s known as secondary, or metastatic, breast cancer.
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Can A Woman With Breast Cancer Get Pregnant
For young women, a breast cancer diagnosis also creates uncertainty about having a family. Because cancer treatments can affect ovarian function, specialists with expertise in working with women with cancer can help preserve fertility before treatment begins by freezing eggs or embryos, through a process called cryopreservation. In Connecticut, insurance carriers cover the cost of cryopreservation for men and women under the age of 40 who have cancer.
It also may happen that a young woman is already pregnant when diagnosed with breast cancer, which requires careful conversations between the provider and patient.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer we see in pregnant women, says Dr. Silber. Because pregnancy brings about a variety of changes in the breastand pregnant women arent getting mammogramsit may make the disease harder to diagnose, she notes, but it doesnt mean the prognosis is worse.
In such cases, she explains, Our goal is to do what we can to treat the cancer and protect the pregnancy, adding that there are some types of chemotherapy treatments that can be given during pregnancy to treat breast cancer.
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.
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Detecting Breast Cancer In Younger Women
While theres no way to predict who will get breast cancer, some factors put women at higher risk at a younger age. Breast cancer risk is higher in women with a family history of breast or ovarian cancers at a young age or who have an Ashkenazi Jewish heritage. Having had radiation therapy in the chest is another important risk to know about.
There are some steps you can take, including discussing your family cancer history with your doctor and taking advantage of genetic testing for BRCA and other genetic mutations, if offered, based on your health and family history.
Through research, we are learning more about cancer, genetics, and risk factors, says Dr. Andrejeva-Wright. Young women should be aware of their family history and keep their doctors updated over time as it changes.
Also, while guidelines no longer call for monthly at-home breast exams, Dr. Andrejeva-Wright urges women of all ages to be breast aware. She advises women to do a breast self-exam at least quarterly and to learn all they can about their risk factors.
Breast awareness entails knowing your family history of breast and other cancers, says Dr. Andrejeva-Wright, It also means knowing any behavioral factors that may increase your risk of developing breast cancer, such as weight gain and alcohol consumption , and doing something about it.
What Is The Average American Womans Risk Of Being Diagnosed With Breast Cancer At Different Ages
Many women are more interested in the risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer at specific ages or over specific time periods than in the risk of being diagnosed at some point during their lifetime. Estimates by decade of life are also less affected by changes in incidence and mortality rates than longer-term estimates. The SEER report estimates the risk of developing breast cancer in 10-year age intervals . According to the current report, the risk that a woman will be diagnosed with breast cancer during the next 10 years, starting at the following ages, is as follows:
- Age 30 . . . . . . 0.49%
- Age 40 . . . . . . 1.55%
- Age 50 . . . . . . 2.40%
- Age 60 . . . . . . 3.54%
- Age 70 . . . . . . 4.09%
These risks are averages for the whole population. An individual womans breast cancer risk may be higher or lower depending on known factors, as well as on factors that are not yet fully understood. To calculate an individual womans estimated breast cancer risk, health professionals can use the Breast Cancer Risk Assessment Tool, which takes into account several known breast cancer risk factors.
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A Little Help From Our Friends
When I started chemo, my friends showed up. Round after roundI was never alone. So much so that my nurse often joked that I had an entourage every time I came in for treatment. I cant imagine going through my diagnosis without the love and support of my friends who just got it. Even when no one knew quite what to say, they were present. And even when I would say Im ok, they would insist on being there.
They were truly a light in one of the darkest times of my life. In fact, my breast cancer diagnosis taught me a lot about the relationships in my life. It had always been important for me to make sure my friends felt like they could lean on me. I always wanted to be the rock. I wanted my boyfriend to know that I was a strong, independent woman.
But I realized the importance of letting people be there. It was OK for me to lean on my friends. It was OK for me to be vulnerable and admit that I wasnt always OK.
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 dont all agree when women should start getting mammograms and you should discuss with your doctor whats 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.
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Eat Your Fruits & Vegetables And Avoid Too Much Alcohol
A healthy diet can help lower the risk of breast cancer. Try to eat a lot of fruits and vegetables and keep alcohol at moderate levels or lower . While moderate drinking can be good for the heart in older adults, even low levels of intake can increase the risk of breast cancer. If you dont drink, dont feel you need to start. If you drink moderately, theres likely no reason to stop. But, if you drink more, you should cut down or quit.
‘i Had Fevers And Difficulty Breastfeeding’
I was misdiagnosed with mastitis twice because I had high fevers and trouble breastfeeding. It turned out to be cancer. Tumors were blocking the milk ducts. I was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer at age 32, five weeks after I had my first child. It didnt look like mastitis at all. So many people told me ‘100% chance’ it is nothing. No one thought of any alternative, however, until multiple courses of treatment failed.
Melissa Thompson, healthcare policy advocate, Stamford, Connecticut
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Stay Away From Tobacco
There is no safe form of tobacco. If you smoke cigarettes or use other types of tobacco products, it’s best to stop. It’s also important to stay away from tobacco smoke . Both using tobacco products and being exposed to tobacco smoke can cause cancer as well as many other health problems. If you don’t use tobacco products, you can help others by encouraging the people around you to quit. Call us at 1-800-227-2345 for help, or see How to Quit Smoking or Smokeless Tobacco to learn more about quitting.
Noticing Changes To Your Breasts
The ACS no longer recommends regular breast self-exams, since theres no evidence that they help reduce breast cancer deaths.
However, knowing how your breasts normally look and feel can help you identify any changes early on. Take notice of the following:
- skin dimpling
Once youve established a baseline for how your breasts look and feel, itll be easier to identify any changes in the future.
If you do notice any changes, or if anything causes you worry, let your doctor know. They can determine if theres cause for concern.
Its common to see asymmetry in breast size, which can be normal.
A note on breast exams
The American Cancer Society no longer recommends regular clinical breast exams or breast self-exams. Theres little evidence that these exams help reduce deaths from breast cancer in women at average risk for the condition.
However, these exams may still be performed in certain scenarios.
For instance, some healthcare professionals may choose to perform clinical breast exams and counsel women on risk and early detection, in particular those at a higher-than-average risk for cancer. In addition, some women might prefer to use routine breast self-exams as a way to track possible changes to their breasts.
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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.
How Common Is Breast Cancer
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in American women, except for skin cancers. The average risk of a woman in the United States developing breast cancer sometime in her life is about 13%. This means there is a 1 in 8 chance she will develop breast cancer. This also means there is a 7 in 8 chance she will never have the disease.
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Can Women In Their 30s Develop Breast Cancer
Most cases of breast cancer are diagnosed in older women. The median age for breast cancer diagnosis between 2010 and 2014 was 62 years. While uncommon, it is possible for young women to develop breast cancer.
Fewer than 5% of the total breast cancer cases in the U.S. are diagnosed in women under the age of 40.
According to Breast Cancer Facts and Figures 2017-2018 from the American Cancer Society, a 20-year-old woman has a 0.1% 10-year probability of developing invasive breast cancer. A 30-year-old woman has a 0.5% risk of developing invasive breast cancer in the next 10 years.
These figures represent absolute risk rather than personal risk of developing breast cancer.
Many other factors contribute to your personal risk for breast cancer including weight, lifestyle choices, and having dense breasts. Some women are born with BRCA1 or BRCA 2 gene mutations. Women with a BRCA1 gene mutation are at a 72% risk of developing breast cancer by the age of 80. Women with a BRCA2 mutation have a 69% risk for breast cancer.
Soft Tissue And Bone Cancers
Sarcomas are cancers that start in connective tissues such as muscles, bones, or fat cells. There are 2 main types of sarcoma:
- Soft tissue sarcomas
- Bone sarcomas
Sarcomas can develop at any age, but some types occur most often in older teens and young adults.
Soft tissue sarcomas: These cancers can start in any part of the body, but they often develop in the arms or legs. Rhabdomyosarcoma, a cancer that starts in cells that normally develop into skeletal muscles, is most common in children younger than 10, but it can also develop in teens and young adults. Most other types of soft tissue sarcomas become more common as people age. Symptoms depend on where the sarcoma starts, and can include lumps , swelling, or bowel problems.
Bone sarcomas: The 2 most common types of bone cancer,osteosarcoma and Ewing sarcoma, are most common in teens, but they can also develop in young adults. They often cause bone pain that gets worse at night or with activity. They can also cause swelling in the area around the bone.
Osteosarcoma usually starts near the ends of the leg or arm bones. The most common places for Ewing sarcoma to start are the pelvic bones, the bones of the chest wall , or in the middle of the leg bones.
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A Family History Of Breast Cancer
Having someone in your family with breast cancer doesnt automatically mean your own risk is increased. For most people, having a relative with breast cancer does not increase their risk.
However, a small number of women and men have an increased risk of developing breast cancer because they have a significant family history.
Your Race And Ethnicity
White and Black women have the highest risk of developing breast cancer in their lifetime. Asian/Pacific Islander and Hispanic/Latina womens breast cancer rates fall in between two major groupings while American Indian and Alaska Native women are on the lowest end of risk.
While white women are more likely to develop breast cancer than Black women overall, they tend to be diagnosed at an older age . Black women have the highest breast cancer rates among women under age 40. Black women make up a higher percentage of triple-negative breast cancer cases.
What to do: If your race or ethnicity places you at higher risk, make sure you follow all screening recommendations to improve your chances of catching cancer early.
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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 study showed an increased risk for relapse, most other studies show either no difference in recurrence or a decrease in risk of recurrence. Breast cancer survivors and their medical caregivers are advised to fully discuss the risk of recurrence when discussing post-cancer reproductive choices.
Tamoxifen And Raloxifene For Women At High Risk
Although not commonly thought of as a healthybehavior, taking the prescription drugs tamoxifenand raloxifene can significantly lower the risk ofbreast cancer in woman at high risk of the disease.Approved by the FDA for breast cancer prevention,these powerful drugs can have side effects, sothey arent right for everyone. If you think youreat high risk, talk to your doctor to see if tamoxifen or raloxifene may be right for you.
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