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How Common Is Breast Cancer In Teens

What Is A Breast Lump

Teen spends year battling breast cancer

A breast lump or is a bulge or bump in the breasts. Breast lumps are more common in older women, but they can also develop in teenagers, young girls and babies. There are many different types of breast lumps that happen in children, but most are benign . Even though breast lumps can be harmless, it is still important to see a doctor if you or your child notice changes in what their breasts normally feel like.

What Do Lumps In My Breast Mean

Many conditions can cause lumps in the breast, including cancer. But most breast lumps are caused by other medical conditions. The two most common causes of breast lumps are fibrocystic breast condition and cysts. Fibrocystic condition causes noncancerous changes in the breast that can make them lumpy, tender, and sore. Cysts are small fluid-filled sacs that can develop in the breast.

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When To See A Doctor For A Breast Lump

Girls and young women should see a doctor if:

  • They develop a painful lump on their breast
  • They find a painless lump on their breast that doesnt go away for several weeks

Most of the time there is little to worry about when a child develops a breast lump, but it should still be examined by a doctor.

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Myth: Breast Cancer Is Super Common Even In Teens

Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in Canadian and American women. However, research shows its extremely unlikely for teens and young adults to get breast cancer. Theres actually only a < 0.06% chance that a person under age 20 will get it.

While its important that we are aware of breast cancer risk and the ways we can reduce it, its also important that we keep misinterpretations about teen risk from spreading into frightening rumours.

So, where did this myth come from? The media has long emphasized womens risk of breast cancer, stating that its 1/9 in Canada and 1/8 in the United States. This has led a lot of young women to overestimate their risk. Many of them think that, on any given day, they have a 1 in 9 chance of developing breast cancer. This is not true. The chances of a woman getting breast cancer in her entire life time are 1/9 or 1/8 . In Canada, a womans average lifetime is about 90 years. So, its more accurate to say that 1 in 9 women in Canada who reach the age of 90 can expect to develop breast cancer.

Research shows that your risk for breast cancer becomes less and less likely the younger you are. According to the Canadian Cancer Society, it was estimated that, in 2016, 86% of breast cancer diagnoses in Canada would occur in women over 50 years of age . The American Cancer Society estimated that, in 2015, 77% of diagnoses in the U.S. would occur in women over 50 . But, only 5% and 5.7% of breast cancer diagnosis occur in women under 40!

Teen Breast Cancer Causes And Symptoms

Cancer In Teens

There are times that teen girls may discover a small lump in their breast, but it is almost always benign and typically triggered by normal hormonal fluctuations. These noncancerous lumps usually go away on their own. However, there are symptoms a doctor should be made aware of:

  • The breast tissue hurts outside of normal soreness caused by a menstrual period
  • Breast tissue puckers or dimples
  • Itchy or scaly rash on breast
  • Unexplained changes in breast symmetry, shape, and size
  • Breast swelling, red, or hot to touch
  • Nipple discharge is liquid or bloody
  • Lump spreads to armpit or collarbone
  • Lump is hard
  • Lump is painful
  • Lump is fixed to the chest wall

Due to the high amount of treatment options for teen breast development, the survival rate is high. Teenagers are healthy enough to tolerate the most aggressive therapies used to treat breast cancer. Thats why its best to avoid high-risk lifestyle behaviors that can increase this risk. The American Cancer Society has noted that although environmental and lifestyle behaviors are not strongly associated with breast cancer, its best to avoid engaging in risky ones like smoking and consistently unhealthy diets. Other behaviors like radiation exposure to treat other diseases like leukemia or Hodgkins disease in young girls can increase the risk of breast cancer development, which takes an average of 20 years to develop.

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Metastatic Breast Cancer Statistics

The number of women under 40 being diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer is increasing.

Metastatic breast cancer means that the cancer has advanced to stage 4 and has moved beyond the breast tissue into other areas of the body, such as the bones or the brain. Survival rates are lower for cancer that has metastasized to other parts of the body.

According to the American Cancer Society , the 5-year survival rate for those with breast cancer that has spread to other parts of the body is 27 percent for women of all ages. However, one found no significant differences in median survival rate between younger and older women with metastatic breast cancer.

Another

Types Of Cancers That Develop In Adolescents

Cancer starts when cells in the body begin to grow out of control. Cells in nearly any part of the body can become cancer, and can then spread to other areas of the body. To learn more about cancer and how it starts and spreads, see Cancer Basics.

For statistical purposes, cancers in adolescents are often thought of as those that start between the ages of 15 and 19. Cancer is not common in teens, but a variety of cancer types can occur in this age group, and treating these cancers can be challenging for a number of reasons.

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

The types of cancers that occur in adolescents are a mix of many of the types that can develop in children and adults. The types of cancers seen in adolescents are not unique to this age group, but the most common types are different from those most common in young children or adults.

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Tips For Learning About Your Cancer

Besides information on your specific cancer, here are some other ways to find information:

  • Ask questions at your doctors appointments. Ask about the cancer, your symptoms, and your treatment plan. You can bring a family member or friend to your appointments to help take notes and remember things.

  • Do online research using reliable cancer information websites. You can ask your health care team or a librarian where to find good information online. Learn how to evaluate cancer information on the Internet.

  • Talk with your doctor about anything you hear or read that you have questions about.

  • Join a teen or young adult support group. Support groups are available online or in person for many cancers.

What Is Fat Necrosis

Teen recruits other teens to help fight breast cancer

Fat necrosis is a condition in which painless, round, firm lumps caused by damaged and disintegrating fatty tissues form in the breast tissue. Fat necrosis often occurs in women with very large breasts or who have had a bruise or blow to the breast. This condition may also be the result of a lumpectomy and radiation from a prior cancerous lump. In some cases, healthcare providers will watch the lump through several menstrual cycles. He or she may want to do a mammogram before deciding whether to remove it. These lumps are not cancerous and they do not increase your risk of cancer.

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Breast Cancer As A Teenager

I suppose the title says it all, but I am fourteen and have been diagnosed with breast cancer I have also have been told that they cannot operate until 16, or perform a mammogram until 16 either… fighting a losing battle against my own body I suppose?

Hi Inkyfingertips,

I am so sorry to hear about your breast cancer diagnosis at such a young age. Can you have any treatment in the meantime, or do you have to wait until you are 16 for that too?

Try to continue to stay as fit as you can and eat a good healthy diet. Is there any cancer in your family, or are you just unfortuate?

I hope that something can be done to help you before your 16th birthday.

Kind regards,

Hey hun,

I’m just so sorry to hear that you are going through this at all, nevermind at such a young age. Are you 14 or 15? Its just that I saw one of your other posts and you said you were 15, I get brain fog so excuse me being confused! Haha. But I saw your other post, where your mum was diagnosed with breast cancer too. I really don’t know what to say, my mum has an aggressive form of breast cancer too, and I myself am bed bound, which I know is a lot different to cancer, but I just want you to know that I understand what it’s like when your mum has cancer and when you’re ill yourself. Much like yourself, my mum is my best friend, so it’s been such a heartbreaking time since her diagnosis.

Alexia xx

Hi Bobbi,

Kindest regards,

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.

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What Is Staging Of Male Breast Cancer

Doctors carry out staging to determine the extent to which a cancer has spread within the body. Staging of breast cancer in men is carried out identically to the staging of breast cancer in women. Imaging studies such as X-rays, CT scans, magnetic resonance imaging , ultrasound, and bone scans may be performed to evaluate the presence and extent of metastatic disease once the initial diagnosis of breast cancer had been made. The American Joint Committee on Cancer TNM staging system takes into account the tumor size, lymph node involvement by cancer, and presence of metastasis. For 2018, a new edition of the AJCC staging system also takes into account biologic characteristics of the tumor including estrogen receptor and progesterone receptor status, tumor grade , and the presence of the HER-2 protein on the cancer cells.

  • T: tumor size and extent of local spread
  • N: extent of tumor involvement of lymph nodes in the axillary region. Since the nipple area is rich in lymphatic vessels, male breast cancer commonly spreads via the lymphatic channels to the axillary lymph nodes.
  • M: presence of distant metastases

Stage 0

Stage 0 refers to intraductal carcinoma or ductal cancer in situ, in which the cancer cells have not spread beyond the boundaries of the ducts themselves.

Stage I

In Stage I breast cancer, the tumor is 2 cm or less in greatest diameter and has not spread to the lymph nodes or to other sites in the body.

Stage II

Stage III

Stage IV

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Cancer In Teens
  • Other breast lumps
  • Could be pregnant
  • Change in shape or appearance of breast
  • Nipple discharge that is clear or milky
  • Breast pain and cause is unknown. Exception: continue if only occurs before menstrual periods or with vigorous exercise.
  • Age 13 or older with no breast buds or breast tissue
  • You have other questions or concerns

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Teens Questions About Breast Cancer

Q: What is breast cancer?

A: Breast cancer occurs when breast cells become abnormal and divide without control or order. Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer among women in the United States.

Q: What is a tumor?

A: A mass or lump of extra tissue is called a tumor. It can be either benign or malignant. Benign tumors are not cancerous. Malignant tumors are cancerous.

Q: Is breast cancer common in teens?

A: Breast cancer does not often occur in teens. However, it is important to take care of your body now. Knowledge of familial history is also important.

Q: What are the symptoms of breast cancer? How will I know if I have breast cancer?

A: Warning signs include a lump, thickening or swelling, change of shape, appearance of dimples, or discharge from the nipple.

Q: If I had a lump in my breast does this mean that I have breast cancer?

A: Only 20% of lumps are found to be cancerous. It is normal for your breasts to feel slightly lumpy or uneven. It is important to conduct self-examinations while you are young so that you know what your healthy breast feels like. Therefore, you will notice any irregularities at a later time.

Q: Is there a cure for breast cancer?

A: While there is still no known cure for breast cancer, there are several treatment options. Methods of treatment include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and hormonal therapy.

Q: What are the known risk factors?

Q. If my family has a history of breast cancer should I be concerned?

Practical Problems Abound For Young Breast Cancer Patients

In May, Elizabeth Bryndza, a 19-year-old sophomore at the College of New Jersey, underwent a bilateral mastectomy to remove both breasts. Two weeks before, she had found a lump of cancerous cells in her right breast.

“I never thought that I wouldn’t survive it,” said Bryndza, now 20. “I’m still going to be me, and I’ll fight as hard as I can.”

But there are practical problems that make younger women more vulnerable than older women to the challenges of a breast cancer diagnosis.

Young women are more likely to be treated aggressively for breast cancer than older women because, since they’ve rarely had regular screenings or mammograms, they are less likely to detect early-stage tumors. Young age is an independent risk factor for recurrent cancer, regardless of a family history of cancer, or a genetic predisposition to have BRCA gene mutations.

And since doctors see so few young women with breast cancer, there is a gap in research about fertility, early-onset menopause and other effects of diagnosis, treatment and outcomes in young women.

Young Women Feel More Invincible in the Face of Cancer

Chemotherapy may affect a young woman in many ways, including her ability to have children in the future. But for teenagers, concerns such as body image, sexuality, beauty and peers loom larger.

“At that time, as a teen, you think you’re invincible,” Bryndza said. “I sort of saw the whole thing as a big inconvenience.”

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Young People’s Cancers Survival

  • More than 7 in 10 of people diagnosed with cancer at ages 15-24 in the UK survive for twenty years or more
  • More than 8 in 10 people diagnosed with cancer at ages 15-24 in the UK survive for ten years or more
  • Almost 9 in 10 people diagnosed with cancer at ages 15-24 in the UK survive for five years or more
  • Survival for young people’s cancers has increased since the 1990s in the UK
  • In the 1990s, around three-quarters of young people diagnosed with cancer survived beyond ten years, now it’s more than 8 in 10
  • Throughout Europe, young people cancer survival is highest in Northern Europe, lowest in the Eastern region and survival for England is below the average for Europe.

What Are The Symptoms

Common Types of Breast Cancer – Mayo Clinic

The most common symptoms of breast cancer in men are

  • A lump or swelling in the breast.
  • Redness or flaky skin in the breast.
  • Irritation or dimpling of breast skin.
  • Nipple discharge.
  • Pulling in of the nipple or pain in the nipple area.

These symptoms can happen with other conditions that are not cancer. If you have any symptoms that worry you, see your doctor right away.

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