How Is Breast Cancer Treated In Younger Women
Treatment decisions are made based whether or not it has spread beyond the breast, as well as the woman’s general health and personal circumstances.
Treatment options include:
Surgery: either a lumpectomy, which involves removing the tumor and some surrounding tissue, or a mastectomy, which is the removal of a breast.
Radiation is generally used following a lumpectomy, and chemotherapyand hormone therapy often are recommended after surgery to help destroy any remaining cancer cells and prevent a return.
Breast cancer treatment can affect your sexuality, fertility, and pregnancy. If youâd like to have children, talk to your doctor it before you begin treatment.
What Is The Prognosis For Children And Adolescents With Cancer
The overall outlook for children and adolescents with cancer has improved greatly over the last half-century. In the mid-1970s, 58% of children and 68% of adolescents diagnosed with cancer survived at least 5 years . In 20112017, 84.7% of children and 85.9% of adolescents diagnosed with cancer survived at least 5 years .
Although survival rates for most childhood cancers have improved in recent decades, the improvement has been especially dramatic for a few cancers, particularly acute lymphoblastic leukemia, the most common childhood cancer. Improved treatments introduced beginning in the 1960s and 1970s raised the 5-year survival rate for children diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia at ages 0 to 14 years from 57% in 1975 to 92% in 2012 . The 5-year survival rate for children diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma at ages 0 to 14 years also increased dramatically, from 43% in 1975 to 91% in 2012 .
Because of these survival improvements, brain cancer has replaced leukemia as the leading cause of cancer death among children . During 20012018, death rates among children from brain and other nervous system cancers were stable while death rates from leukemia declined an average of 2.9% per year .
In contrast, survival rates remain poor for some cancer types, for some age groups, and for some cancers within a site. For example:
A Word Of Caution Regarding Home Genetic Tests For Breast Cancer
The idea of a home genetic test for breast cancer is exciting to many people, as these tests might help them avoid the clinic while being their own advocate in their health. It’s important to thoroughly understand the limitations of these tests, however, if you choose to do one.
For example, a popular at-home genetic test identifies three breast cancer genes that are more common among Ashkenazi women but are rare in other ethnic populations. While the company is transparent in admitting that the test only checks for 3 out of a potential 1000 BRCA mutations, not everyone reads the small print. The bottom line on this test is that for Ashkenazi Jewish woman, a positive test might let them know they should see their healthcare provider . For most women the test is relatively meaningless, and actually be harmful if they trusted the results and did not have formal testing.
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Using Your Family History
You should certainly share your family history with your medical team. Your healthcare providers might advise genetic counseling or genetic testing if your family history suggests that you could be carrying a breast cancer gene.
Some red flags include:
- Cancer of any kind before the age of 50
- More than one relative with the same type of cancer
- One family member who has more than one type of cancer
- A family member who has cancer not typical for that gender, such as breast cancer in a male
- Certain combinations of cancer, such as the combination of breast cancer with ovarian cancer, uterine cancer, colon cancer, prostate cancer, pancreatic cancer, or melanoma
- Cancer in both of one organ, for example, bilateral breast or ovarian cancer
Breast Cancer Treatment In Teens
Treatment for breast cancer in teens depends on how far the disease has spread and the teens general health and personal circumstances. All of these factors play an important role in what steps are taken. Some of the treatment options include:
- Surgery In these cases, a lumpectomy or mastectomy is conducted. A lumpectomy includes the removal of the tumor and surrounding tissue. A mastectomy involves the removal of the whole breast. Depending on how far the disease has spread, either option may be best.
- Radiation This therapy is usually used following a lumpectomy. Using cancer-killing beams, radiation therapy targets undetected cancer cells further reducing the risk of cancer returning.
- Hormone This therapy is effective for those breast cancers that are affected by hormones in the blood. It utilizes drugs that block estrogen and/or progesterone.
- Chemotherapy This is usually administered after breast surgery but before radiation, and uses drugs directly injected into the vein via a needle or pill to target and kill cancer cells.
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Are My Breasts Normal
One of my breasts is bigger than the other.
Its quite common for breasts to be slightly different in size or to have one which sits slightly higher or lower than the other. While theyre developing they might also grow at different rates, although they usually look about the same by the end of the process.
My breasts feel lumpy
As breast tissue continues to develop, your breasts may feel generally lumpy and tender. This is due to fluctuating hormones and will usually settle down over time.
My nipples dont point outwards
In 10-20% of girls, the nipples may be flat or be drawn inwards on one or both sides. This is normal and does not create any health problems. It might have been present from birth or it may occur as the breasts develop.
My nipples dont look the same
Nipples come in many different sizes and shapes. They may point up, down, or away from each other. They can be pale or dark, large or small, and may not look completely alike.
I have little lumps around my nipples
The skin on the areola contains little glands known as Montgomerys tubercles. They look like little bumps or pimples on the skin and they produce a fluid which moisturises the skin of the areola and nipple.
I have hair around my nipples
Some girls will notice a few hairs growing around the edge of the areola. This is quite common and if it bothers you it can be removed by cutting or plucking the hair.
My breasts hurt or feel uncomfortable
Ive got a red spot/area on my breast
The Emotional Toll Of Breast Cancer
Younger women are more likely to be affected to the point of depression if they feel overwhelmed by the disease. In addition, unlike older breast cancer patients, they generally lack a strong peer support system
“I think when you’re older you expect it more… it’s not something that’s atypical for your peer group,” said Bryndza’s doctor, Dr. Dawn Hershman, co-director of the breast cancer program at the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center, Columbia University Medical Center. “When you’re young you feel like you’re the only one. Everybody wants to help but no one knows what it’s like.”
But younger women may not want empathy, craving normality instead. Often, the greatest source of anxiety for a young woman with breast cancer is not the disease — it’s whether their peers will treat them differently. Both Thompson and Bryndza said they felt the most anxious about heading back to school.
“Because she was so young, she did not know exactly what was, and that helped her deal with it,” Anderson said. “But she was worried about her peers — if they were going to talk about her as if she had a disease… She didn’t want a lot of young people to know. I guess because she didn’t understand herself what was going on, they might not understand either.”
Things Fall Apart
“It was hard because I was such a wreck, emotionally, sometimes,” Bryndza said. “I needed to focus on myself and my health and it was hard to be in a relationship when I had to worry about myself.”
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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.
How Do Cancers In Adolescents And Young Adults Differ From Those In Younger Children
Cancer occurs more frequently in adolescents and young adults ages 15 to 39 years than in younger children, although incidence in this group is still much lower than in older adults. According to the NCI Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program , each year in 20142018 there were:
- 17.8 cancer diagnoses per 100,000 children ages younger than 15 years
- 77.4 cancer diagnoses per 100,000 adolescents and young adults ages 15 to 39 years
- 548.9 cancer diagnoses per 100,000 adults ages 40 to 64 years
The most frequent cancers diagnosed in adolescents and young adults are cancers that are more common among adults than younger children, such as breast cancer, melanoma, and thyroid cancer . But certain cancers, such as testicular cancer, are more likely to be diagnosed among AYAs than among either younger children or adults . However, the incidence of specific cancer types varies widely across the adolescent and young adult age continuum.
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When You Can’t Find Your Family History
While many women already know if their mother, sister, or daughter have had breast cancer, you might not have this information.
If your close family members passed away at a young age, if some of them didn’t have access to health care , if you were adopted, or if members of your family have been otherwise separated, you might not know which illnesses run in your family.
While family history is important information, breast cancer screenings are the most important tools for early detection, whether or not you have a family history of the disease.
Survival Rates By Race
White women in the United States are most likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer. Between 2013 and 2017, 131.3 per 100,000 white women were diagnosed with the disease.
There is, however, variation within that group: non-Hispanic white women were far more likely to have been diagnosed than Hispanic white women.
Black women are the second most likely group to get breast cancer , followed by Asian and Pacific Island women , Hispanic , and American Indian and Alaska Native women .
Survival rates also vary according to race and ethnicity.
From 2013 to 2017, Asian and Pacific Islander women had the lowest death rate, at 11.4 per 100,000 women. This was followed by Hispanic women , American Indian and Alaska Native women , white women , and non-Hispanic white women .
Black women had the highest death rate, at 27.6 per 100,000 women, despite being the second most likely group to get breast cancer.
This could possibly be due to a lack of access to care. seem to affect disparity in breast cancer mortality. These include:
The most important factor that affects breast cancer survival is whether the cancer has metastasized, or spread to other body organs. The earlier the diagnosis, the greater the chance of treating breast cancer before it advances.
Some types of breast cancer are more aggressive than others. Five-year survival rates tend to be lower for women diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer .
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Could I Get Breast Cancer
Breast cancer in young girls is extremely rare and the majority of breast cancers occur in women over the age of 50. In your early teenage years, you shouldnt worry too much about your breasts however, there are some things you can do to reduce your risk over your lifetime.
- Maintain a healthy body weight. Its important to develop good patterns of healthy eating early in your life. Avoid junk foods and eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Regular exercise also reduces your risk. The World Health Organisation recommends that children and youth should have at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous-intensity physical activity daily. Its important to continue to exercise regularly throughout your life.
- Avoid alcohol and smoking as both of these contribute to cancer risk.
Its never too early to start adopting a healthy lifestyle. From the age of 20 you should also start checking your breasts regularly so that you know what they normally feel like. That way any changes can be picked up early and checked out by your GP.
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of Breast Cancer In Children
Breast cancer may cause any of the following signs. Check with your childs doctor if your child has any of the following:
- A lump or thickening in or near the breast or in the underarm area.
- A change in the size or shape of the breast.
- A dimple or puckering in the skin of the breast.
- A nipple turned inward into the breast.
- Scaly, red, or swollen skin on the breast, nipple, or areola .
- Dimples in the breast that look like the skin of an orange, called peau dorange.
Other conditions that are not breast cancer may cause these same signs.
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What Should Survivors Of Childhood And Adolescent Cancer Consider After They Complete Treatment
People who have had cancer during childhood or adolescence need follow-up care and enhanced medical surveillance for the rest of their lives because of the risk of complications related to the disease or its treatment that can last for, or arise, many years after they complete treatment for their cancer . Health problems that develop months or years after treatment has ended are known as late effects.
The specific late effects that a person who was treated for childhood cancer might experience depend on the type and location of their cancer, the type of treatment they received, and patient-related factors, such as age at diagnosis. Some people with a history of childhood cancer may need additional follow-up if an inheritedgeneticalteration is found to be the cause of the cancer.
Children and adolescents who were treated for bone cancer, brain tumors, or Hodgkin lymphoma, or who received radiation to their chest, abdomen, or pelvis, have the highest risk of serious late effects from their cancer treatment, including second cancers, joint replacement, hearing loss, and congestive heart failure .
Its important for people who had cancer during childhood or adolescence to have regular medical follow-up examinations so any health problems can be identified and treated as soon as possible. The Childrens Oncology Group has developed long-term follow-up guidelines for survivors of childhood, adolescent, and young adult cancers.
What Will The Doctor Do
Sometimes a doctor will discover a lump in a woman’s breast during a routine examination or a patient might come to the doctor with questions about a lump she found.
In other cases, a mammogram may find a lump in the breast that can’t be felt. A mammogram is a special kind of X-ray of the breast that helps doctors see what’s going on inside. Sometimes, other kinds of pictures, like an MRI, also can be taken.
When a lump is found, the doctor will want to test it. The best way to do this is usually with a biopsy. In a biopsy, a small amount of breast tissue is removed with a needle or during a small operation. Then, the tissue is examined under a microscope to look for cancer cells.
The biopsy may be benign , which means the lump is not cancer. If the biopsy shows cancer cells, the lump is malignant . If a breast lump does contains cancer cells, the woman, along with her doctor and family, will decide what to do next.
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Health Disparities In Young African Americans
In addition to these unique issues, research has shown that young African American women face even greater challenges.
- African American women under age 35 have rates of breast cancer two times higher than caucasian women under age 35.14
- African Americans under age 35 die from breast cancer three times as often as caucasian women of the same age.14
- Researchers believe that access to healthcare and the quality of healthcare available may explain these disparities. But scientists continue to investigate.
- Research also shows that young African Americans are more likely to get aggressive forms of breast cancer than anyone else.14