If Ive Been Diagnosed Where Can I Find Support
Being a breast cancer patient is tough at any age, but younger patients may feel especially isolated or shocked. As previously mentioned, they also have particular concerns, such as future fertility and financial insecurity, that may not be a factor for older patients.
The Canadian Breast Cancer Network publishes a booklet, Never Too Young, that focuses on the needs of younger breast cancer patients in Canada.
Programs like PYNK in Toronto or similar ones elsewhere in the country are aimed specifically at younger patients and their needs. Your medical care provider may also be able to suggest a support group or other services aimed specifically at younger patients.
Lastly, if you know a loved one who is dealing with cancer, there are practical ways you can support them, including organizing meal delivery, attending appointments, and scheduling visits with friends and family.
Remember, you are not alone.
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
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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Risk Factors For Cancers
Tobacco use, alcohol use, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity and air pollution are risk factors for cancer .
Some chronic infections are risk factors for cancer this is a particular issue in low- and middle-income countries. Approximately 13% of cancers diagnosed in 2018 globally were attributed to carcinogenic infections, including Helicobacter pylori, human papillomavirus , hepatitis B virus, hepatitis C virus, and Epstein-Barr virus .
Hepatitis B and C viruses and some types of HPV increase the risk for liver and cervical cancer, respectively. Infection with HIV substantially increases the risk of cancers such as cervical cancer.
The Cost Of Breast Cancer Treatment For Young Women
Everyone with breast cancer is at risk for suffering from economic toxicity with the diagnosis, says Dr. Silber. At the time they are diagnosed with breast cancer, younger women are less likely to be financially sound or to have established themselves in a career that provides sick leave and paid time off theyre also likelier to have small children, she says.
If you suffer from economic challenges prior to a cancer diagnosis, breast cancer is going to make that worse, says Dr. Silber. Thats especially true for younger women who are from poorer socioeconomic backgrounds and dont have access to the services or much leeway in terms of employment, she says.
I take care of women who are young, poor, single mothers who may be working at jobs that dont have good human resources supportlike, for example, a young woman working at a mini mart at night, says Dr. Silber. She may be doing hard and not particularly safe work, and might not have health benefits.
It can be a struggle to keep a job or get a raisebreast cancer patients may become semi-unemployable due to all the medical appointments they need, she explains.
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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.
Inherited Breast Cancer And Risk Reduction
Family history is a known risk factor for breast cancer, with elevated risk due to both increasing number and decreasing age of first-degree relatives affected. For example, in a large, population-based study, risk of breast cancer was increased 2.9-fold among women whose relative was diagnosed prior to age 30, but the increase was only 1.5-fold if the affected relative was diagnosed after age 60 years. While twin studies indicate familial aggregation among women diagnosed with breast cancer, identification of true germline mutations, including BRCA1, BRCA2, p53 , PTEN , and STK11 , are quite rare, on the order of 5%-6%.- However, the management of young women at an increased risk of developing breast cancer via a germline mutation requires careful consideration, as screening, risk reduction, and implications for relatives are of upmost importance.
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What Are The Risks At My Age
Breast cancer risk generally increases with age, with most diagnoses in Canadian women occurring in those who are 50 years old and over.
Some people who develop breast cancer have several risk factors others may not seem to have any. Keep in mind that the amount of change in risk varies for each of these factors and is often statistically small, but worth learning about if they may affect you.
According to the Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care, factors that can increase your risk include a personal or family history of breast cancer being a carrier of a gene mutation such as BRCA1 or BRCA 2, or having a first-degree relative with these gene mutations or having had chest radiation therapy before 30 years of age or within the past eight years. Breast density is also a factor, with those with denser breasts having an overall higher risk.
Lifestyle factors can also increase breast cancer risk. According to the Canadian Cancer Society, these factors include alcohol consumption greater than a drink a day and physical inactivity at any age.
Reproductive history can also be a factor, according to the Canadian Cancer Society, because of the diseases association with estrogen. Some of those risk factors include menstruation that begins at or before age 11, a first full-term pregnancy after 30, and the use of oral contraceptives containing both estrogen and progesterone.
The Truth Behind Common Breast Cancer Myths
- The Truth Behind Common Breast Cancer Myths | Expert Says
Many breast cancer myths and misconceptions surround this number one cancer among women. Medical Director, Dr Ong Kong Wee of K W Ong Breast & General Surgery Clinic, addresses some of the common myths and provide the facts.
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Breast Cancer Now Most Common Form Of Cancer: Who Taking Action
The global cancer landscape is changing, according to WHO experts, on the eve of World Cancer Day 2021.
Breast cancer has now overtaken lung cancer as the worlds mostly commonly-diagnosed cancer, according to statistics released by the International Agency for Research on Cancer in December 2020.
So on World Cancer Day, WHO will host the first of a series of consultations in order to establish a new global breast cancer initiative, which will launch later in 2021. This collaborative effort between WHO, IARC, the International Atomic Energy Agency and other multi-sectoral partners, will reduce deaths from breast cancer by promoting breast health, improving timely cancer detection and ensuring access to quality care.
WHO and the cancer community are responding with renewed urgency to address breast cancer and to respond to the growing cancer burden globally that is straining individuals, communities and health systems.
In the past two decades, the overall number of people diagnosed with cancer nearly doubled, from an estimated 10 million in 2000 to 19.3 million in 2020. Today, one in 5 people worldwide will develop cancer during their lifetime. Projections suggest that the number of people being diagnosed with cancer will increase still further in the coming years, and will be nearly 50% higher in 2040 than in 2020.
The number of deaths from cancer has also increased, from 6.2 million in 2000 to 10 million in 2020. More than one out of every six deaths is due to cancer.
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.
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Body Image In Young Women After Breast Cancer
Another hurdle young women face is how breast cancer treatments and their side effects affect body image.
There are incredible demands placed on women in American society about their appearance, says Dr. Silber, and I would not be truthful if I didnt say that a lot of women really struggle not only with treatment but with the aftermath. Its hard because how someone looks can be a part of their self-worth. They may have lost their hair and gained some weight. Their breasts dont look the same. To act like thats not a thing is not fairof course, it matters.
Young women may be looking for a partner at a time when breast cancer treatment causes them to experience body changes that women generally dont encounter until theyre older and postmenopausal: hot flashes and/or weight gain in the abdomenthe meno-pot.
Its different when these changes happen at 20 and 30, says Dr. Silber, who explains that hormonal therapies are used for certain types of breast cancers to control tumor growth and discourage recurrence. But, this life-saving treatment, which a woman will need to keep taking as long as she lives, puts female breast cancer survivors into premature menopausemany years or even decades before their peers.
Cancer Growth And Stages
Cancer is a clump of abnormal cells in a tissue, usually due to a genetic mutation that lets them grow out of control. These out-of-control cells form lumps of mutated tissue called tumors. When these form from the tissue of the breasts, theyre classified as breast cancer.
Inside female breasts, there are 15 to 20 lobes of tissue made up of lobules containing milk-producing glands and ducts that transport it to the nipple. Cancers can start anywhere, but they usually arise from the cells in the ducts or lobules.
Cancer can spread through the circulatory system to the lymph nodes, which they can use like bus stations to spread to the rest of the body. There are many lymph nodes near the breastsaround the chest, neck, and armpits.
Many times cancer will spread to these nodes from the breasts this is called regionally spreading. Cancer that has spread further than those nodes is called metastatic breast cancer.
When youre diagnosed with breast cancer, your cancer gets “staged.” Doctors stage your breast cancer based on the tumor’s size, its characteristics, and its spread. Staging lets doctors compare different patients, how their treatment worked, and what happened after treatment.
Stages go from 0 to IV depending on how large the original tumor is, how many lymph nodes have been colonized with cancer, and how far it has spread to other areas of the body.
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Causes Of Breast Growth In 20s
In most women, the breasts have fully developed by age 23. However, there may be certain reasons that cause breasts to increase in size during the 20s. The change in the size of breasts can be temporary and last from a few days to a few weeks and sometimes they can be permanent.
The reason for believing that the breasts are fully developed by age 23 is because by this time, the changes brought about by puberty have mostly stopped, and the breasts have been filled with their share of fat fibrous tissue. The abundance of connective tissue along with the intact strength of the suspensory ligament at this age causes the breasts to become and feel dense.
Since the breasts are mainly made of fatty tissue, an increase in weight during your 20s will cause the breasts to enlarge or increase in size. The opposite happens when you lose weight.
Most women get pregnant during their 20s, and this also leads to breast enlargement along with the weight gain caused by hormones released in the body during pregnancy. Also, the breasts increase in size as they prepare themselves for lactation. Milk glands become larger and fat builds up in the breasts during pregnancy. These changes occur rapidly, and you will find that your breasts have almost grown a cup size larger within the first 6 weeks of pregnancy. Pregnancy can cause the areolas to get darker and the nipples to become larger, but these two changes are usually temporary and return to the pre-pregnancy state after delivery.
Breast Cancer Changes Your Whole Life Even After You’re Healed
“I wish I had known just how far-reaching the effects of a breast cancer diagnosis are. Sure, there’s all the treatment and emotional turmoil surrounding that, but I didn’t realize that breast cancer would change my perspective on life as a whole and that it would play a role in future decisions like those regarding my career, my relationships, family planning, and diet and exercise habits. Now I appreciate the little things in life more. I’ve even started a young survivors support group to share what I’ve learned.” Cara, diagnosed at age 25
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Living With Breast Cancer
Being diagnosed with breast cancer can affect daily life in many ways, depending on what stage it’s at and the treatment you will have.
How people cope with the diagnosis and treatment varies from person to person. There are several forms of support available, if you need it.
Forms of support may include:
- family and friends, who can be a powerful support system
- communicating with other people in the same situation
- finding out as much as possible about your condition
- not trying to do too much or overexerting yourself
- making time for yourself
Find out more about living with breast cancer.
Other Medical And Personal Expenses
Insurance issues can be a major concern while youre being treated for breast cancer.
Paying out-of-pocket expenses related to your treatment can be a burden. This can lead to struggles paying other expenses such as rent, groceries and car payments. There are some financial assistance programs that may help.
Learn more about social support for children.
SUSAN G. KOMEN® SUPPORT RESOURCES
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Clinical Trials For Young Women With Breast Cancer
Research is ongoing to improve fertility preservation and breast cancer treatment for young women.
After discussing the benefits and risks with your health care provider, you may want to consider joining a clinical trial.
If you are considering a clinical trial of fertility preservation, talking with a fertility specialist is also helpful.
Susan G. Komen® Breast Care Helpline
If you or a loved one needs information or resources about clinical trials, call the Komen Breast Care Helpline at 1-877 GO KOMEN or email .
Learn more about clinical trials.
Unique Challenges For Young Adults
Breast cancer in young adults is just different. We are at a different phase of our lives and encounter unique challenges compared to older persons. These challenges may significantly impact our quality and length of life. Some of the unique challenges and issues young adults face:
- The possibility of early menopause and sexual dysfunction brought on by breast cancer treatment
- Fertility issues, because breast cancer treatment can affect a womanâs ability and plans to have children
- Many young women are raising small children while enduring treatment and subsequent side effects
- Young breast cancer survivors have a higher prevalence of psychosocial issues such as anxiety and depression13
- Questions about pregnancy after diagnosis
- Heightened concerns about body image, especially after breast cancer-related surgery and treatment
- Whether married or single, intimacy issues may arise for women diagnosed with breast cancer
- Challenges to financial stability due to workplace issues, lack of sufficient health insurance and the cost of cancer care
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