Why You Should Get Tested
A mammogram is an X-ray picture of the breast that can find cancers, even when they are too small for you or your doctor to feel or see.
Getting regular mammograms and proper follow-up testing for abnormal results are important because they can:
- find cancer early when it may be smaller and easier to treat
- lower the risk of dying from breast cancer in women ages 50 to 74
Mammograms are not perfect tests. Some cancers may also develop in the time between tests. Its important to talk to your doctor or nurse practitioner about the benefits and limitations of testing for breast cancer.
Should You Talk To Your Doctor About Breast Cancer
Understanding breast cancer risk factors, knowing your personal risk of developing breast cancer, and recognizing the signs and symptoms of breast cancer can help women seek the care that they need, when they need it.
Take our Breast Cancer Risk Quiz to learn more about your personal risk. The quiz takes less than one minute to complete.
If you are 40 years or older, schedule a mammogram. The Breast Center along with The American Medical Association, The American College of Radiology, the American Cancer Society, the Society of Breast Imaging, and the National Cancer Institute recommend that women start getting a screening mammogram every year starting at age 40.
You dont have to wait until youre 40 to talk to your doctor about breast cancer, though. Meet with the specialists at the Breast Center if you have questions or concerns about breast cancer or breast health. Request an appointment online or call 479-442-6266.
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.
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Clinicopathologic Features Biology And Prognosis
The comparison of clinicopathologic and prognostic features of breast cancer arising in younger women with those in their older counterparts has been the subject of published studies for decades.- Traditionally, breast cancer arising in a younger host is characterized by a more aggressive phenotype. Among 185 premenopausal women carrying a diagnosis of invasive breast cancer, referred for surgery at the European Institute of Oncology from April 1997 to August 2000, those aged less than 35 years had a higher percentage of ER-negative , progesterone receptor -negative , vascular or lymphatic invasion and pathologic grade 3 tumors compared with women aged 35-50 years. Differences in tumor size, lymph node involvement, and Her2/neu status between younger and older women diagnosed with breast cancer have been less clear.-
No Upper Age Limit For Mammograms: Women 80 And Older Benefit
- 68% of women who had regular mammograms were diagnosed with stage I breast cancer
- 56% of women who got mammograms irregularly and 33% of women who DIDN’T get mammograms were diagnosed with stage I disease
- 32% of women who had regular mammograms were diagnosed with stage II, III or IV breast cancer
- 44% of women who got mammograms irregularly and 67% of women who DIDN’T get mammograms were diagnosed with stage II, III or IV disease
- Breast cancer can and does happen in older women.
- Breast cancer can be treated effectively in older women.
- No matter how old you are, mammograms, along with breast self-exams and exams by a doctor, can diagnose breast cancer early, when it’s most treatable.
- Age shouldn’t be why you don’t do all that you can to stay as healthy as possible.
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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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Having Dense Breast Tissue
Breasts are made up of fatty tissue, fibrous tissue, and glandular tissue. Breasts appear denser on a mammogram when they have more glandular and fibrous tissue and less fatty tissue. Women with dense breasts on mammogram have a higher risk of breast cancer than women with average breast density. Unfortunately, dense breast tissue can also make it harder to see cancers on mammograms.
A number of factors can affect breast density, such as age, menopausal status, the use of certain drugs , pregnancy, and genetics.
To learn more, see our information on breast density and mammograms.
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What Are The Risk Factors For Breast Cancer
Being a woman and getting older are the main risk factors for breast cancer.
Studies have shown that your risk for breast cancer is due to a combination of factors. The main factors that influence your risk include being a woman and getting older. Most breast cancers are found in women who are 50 years old or older.
Some women will get breast cancer even without any other risk factors that they know of. Having a risk factor does not mean you will get the disease, and not all risk factors have the same effect. Most women have some risk factors, but most women do not get breast cancer. If you have breast cancer risk factors, talk with your doctor about ways you can lower your risk and about screening for breast cancer.
Symptoms Of Breast Cancer
Breast cancer can have several symptoms, but the first noticeable symptom is usually a lump or area of thickened breast tissue.
Most breast lumps are not cancerous, but it’s always best to have them checked by a doctor.
You should also see a GP if you notice any of these symptoms:
- a change in the size or shape of one or both breasts
- discharge from either of your nipples, which may be streaked with blood
- a lump or swelling in either of your armpits
- dimpling on the skin of your breasts
- a rash on or around your nipple
- a change in the appearance of your nipple, such as becoming sunken into your breast
Breast pain is not usually a symptom of breast cancer.
Find out more about the symptoms of breast cancer.
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Understanding Breast Cancer Risk
Everyone has some risk of developing breast cancer.
Based on current information, 12.9% of women born in the United States or one in eight women will develop breast cancer at some point during their lives. For men born in the United States, the current lifetime risk of breast cancer is 0.13%. This means about one in 800 men will develop breast cancer at some point during their lives.
But its important to know that these numbers are averages for all women and men in the United States. An individual persons breast cancer risk may be higher or lower, depending on specific risk factors.
Older age, for example, increases an individual persons risk of developing breast cancer. According to statistics from the American Cancer Society, the risk that a woman will be diagnosed with breast cancer during the next 10 years, starting at the following ages, is:
age 80: 3.0% or one in 33
If you and your doctor have not discussed your personal risk of breast cancer, its a good idea to bring it up at your next appointment. Your doctor will ask you about a number of factors that can affect your personal risk, including your personal and family history of cancer and any prior radiation therapy youve had. Learn more about risk factors.
Risk Factors For Breast Cancer At A Young Age
One in 10 women diagnosed with breast cancer are under the age of 45. Learn about the risk factors for early onset breast cancer and find out what to do if you think you may be at risk.
In addition to the risk factors all women face, some risk factors put young women at a higher risk for getting breast cancer at a young age.
If you are under the age of 45, you may have a higher risk for breast cancer if
- You have close relatives who were diagnosed with breast cancer before the age of 45 or ovarian cancer at any age, especially if more than one relative was diagnosed or if a male relative had breast cancer.
- You have changes in certain breast cancer genes , or have close relatives with these changes, but have not been tested yourself.
- You have Ashkenazi Jewish heritage.
- You received radiation therapy to the breast or chest during childhood or early adulthood.
- You have had breast cancer or certain other breast health problems, such as lobular carcinoma in situ , ductal carcinoma in situ , atypical ductal hyperplasia, or atypical lobular hyperplasia.
- You have been told that you have dense breasts on a mammogram.
Do any of these characteristics describe you? If so, talk to your doctor about your family history and other risk factors you might have.
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Previous Breast Cancer Or Lump
If you have previously had breast cancer or early non-invasive cancer cell changes in breast ducts, you have a higher risk of developing it again, either in your other breast or in the same breast.
A benign breast lump does not mean you have breast cancer, but certain types of breast lumps may slightly increase your risk of developing cancer.
Some benign changes in your breast tissue, such as cells growing abnormally in ducts , or abnormal cells inside your breast lobes , can make getting breast cancer more likely.
What Is The Earliest Age For Breast Cancer
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How Can I Detect My Breast Cancer Early
The best way for young women to find breast cancer early is to be breast self-aware. Become familiar with your breasts: their shape, size and what they feel like. Learn what is normal for you. Sometimes your breasts may change throughout your monthly cycle. If you are pregnant or nursing, your breasts will change even more dramatically. If you find anything unusual, see your doctor immediately and insist on a diagnosis. In general, women should have a yearly clinical breast examination by a doctor beginning at age 20 and start having annual mammograms beginning at age 45.
Breast Cancer And Teenage Girls
If youre a teenage girl, you might be worried about your risk of getting breast cancer.
Developing breast cancer when youre a teenager is extremely rare. Its also uncommon in women in their 20s and 30s. The vast majority of breast cancers are diagnosed in women over the age of 50.
There can be a lot of unreliable information and scare stories on the internet, so its important to use reputable websites or talk to your GP if youre worried about any changes to your breasts. You can also call our Helpline free on 0808 800 6000 to speak with one of our experts.
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What Are The Breast Cancer Symptoms I Need To Look Out For
People of all ages should be familiar with the normal look and feel of their breasts. If you notice any of the following changes please see your doctor immediately:
- a lump, lumpiness or thickening of the breast
- changes in the skin of a breast, such as puckering, dimpling or a rash
- persistent or unusual breast pain
- a change in the shape or size of a breast
- discharge from a nipple, a nipple rash or a change in its shape.
What Is A Mammogram And Why Is It Important
A mammogram is an x-ray photo of the breast and is the most common and effective way to screen for early signs of breast cancer. Regular screenings for breast cancer are vital since early detection allows for more treatment options and a higher chance of survival. According to the Carol Milgard Breast Center, approximately 1 in 8 women in the U.S. are diagnosed with breast cancer. Women whose breast cancer is detected early have a 93% higher survival rate in the first five years of diagnosis.
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If Youre Not Old Enough For A Mammogram Self
Yearly screening mammograms are not recommended for most until age 40. According to Dr. Kute, most patients under 40 who learn they have breast cancer usually sought an exam because they have felt a lump or have some other reason to suspect the diagnosis.
Dr. Kutes advice to those under 40 is to talk to about breast cancer with their health care provider, who has sophisticated calculators for determining risk. Monthly self-exams to check for lumps are an important part of early detection that can significantly improve the chance of surviving breast cancer.
If a patient goes to their health care provider with a palpable lump, breast pain or nipple discharge, often they are evaluated by a primary care provider first and then would have breast imaging, including a diagnostic mammogram and ultrasound, according to Dr. Kute. If a specialized breast radiologist is concerned with the imaging findings, then a biopsy or additional imaging may be recommended, since not all breast masses that can be felt are cancerous.
Lifestyle also plays a role in breast cancer, and only 10% to 15% of breast cancer is hereditary, according to Dr. Kute. While there are certain risk factors that cant be changed, she recommends reducing risk by maintaining a healthy weight, eating a well-balanced diet, exercising 2½ hours per week and consuming no more than one alcoholic drink per day.
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.
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Can I Screen With Ultrasound Instead
An ultrasound scan is also not a reliable stand-alone method of breast screening in young women. Its a useful targeted diagnostic tool for adding extra information when investigating a known abnormality, but its not accurate enough for generally scanning the breast and screening for cancer.
You can reduce your lifetime risk of breast cancer by adopting healthy lifestyle choices while you are still young.
- Be active. Regular exercise is associated with a decrease in the lifetime risk of breast cancer. Read the World Health Organisations exercise recommendations.
- Maintain a healthy body weight. Women who are overweight or obese have a higher risk of breast cancer after menopause so its important to adopt healthy eating patterns early in life. Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables and stay away from junk food or make it only an occasional treat.
- Limit alcohol. Alcoholic drinks raise the levels of oestrogen in the body and contribute to breast cancer risk.
The Types Of Radiotherapy
The type of radiotherapy you have will depend on the type of breast cancer and the type of surgery you have. Some women may not need to have radiotherapy at all.
Types of radiotherapy include:
- breast radiotherapy after breast-conserving surgery, radiation is applied to the whole of the remaining breast tissue
- chest-wall radiotherapy after a mastectomy, radiotherapy is applied to the chest wall
- breast boost some women may be offered a boost of high-dose radiotherapy in the area where the cancer was removed however, this may affect the appearance of your breast, particularly if you have large breasts, and can sometimes have other side effects, including hardening of breast tissue
- radiotherapy to the lymph nodes where radiotherapy is aimed at the armpit and the surrounding area to kill any cancer that may be in the lymph nodes
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