How Fast Breast Cancer Grows
People may wonder about growth or doubling time when considering how long to wait to begin treatment. This growth is also very important to understand if you have a lump and have been advised to simply observe it over time.
Unless your healthcare provider is extremely confident that a lump is benign, it should be evaluated right away rather than waiting.
In general, the growth of breast cancer can be quite variable, but several studies provide at least an estimate of what may be happening.
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.-
Clinical Considerations And Recommendations
How should individual breast cancer risk be assessed?
Health care providers periodically should assess breast cancer risk by reviewing the patients history. Breast cancer risk assessment is based on a combination of the various factors that can affect risk Box 1610111213. Initial assessment should elicit information about reproductive risk factors, results of prior biopsies, ionizing radiation exposure, and family history of cancer. Health care providers should identify cases of breast, ovarian, colon, prostate, pancreatic, and other types of germline mutation-associated cancer in first-degree, second-degree, and possibly third-degree relatives as well as the age of diagnosis. Women with a potentially increased risk of breast cancer based on initial history should have further risk assessment. Assessments can be conducted with one of the validated assessment tools available online, such as the Gail, BRCAPRO, Breast and Ovarian Analysis of Disease Incidence and Carrier Estimation Algorithm, International Breast Cancer Intervention Studies , or the Claus model 34.
Is screening breast self-examination recommended in women at average risk of breast cancer, and what should women do if they notice a change in one of their breasts?
Should practitioners perform routine screening clinical breast examinations in average-risk women?
When should screening mammography begin in average-risk women?
How frequently should screening mammography be performed in average-risk women?
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Should Women Under Age 40 Get Mammograms
In general, regular mammograms arent recommended for women under 40 years of age, in part because breast tissue tends to be dense, making mammograms less effective.The American Cancer Society recommends women ages 40 to;44 should have a choice to start yearly screening mammograms if they would like.;Women ages 45 through 54 should have a mammogram each year and those 55 years and over should continue getting mammograms every 1 to 2;years..; Most experts believe the low risk at that age doesnt justify the exposure to radiation or the cost of mammography. But mammograms may be recommended for younger women with a family history of breast cancer and other risk factors.
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.;
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When To Start Screening
We recommend mammogram screening to start no earlier than age 40 and no later than age 50 for women of average risk for breast cancer, and continue through to at least age 74, says Dr. Andrejeva-Wright. Screening;mammography should occur at least once every two years. For women whose screening mammograms show they have dense breasts, an extra testa breast ultrasoundis recommended.
Dr. Andrejeva-Wright says it is important to talk with a health care provider about when you should start getting mammograms, based on your unique health profile, and to make an appointment to see your doctor if you notice any unusual breast changes.;
Any time a woman feels a breast mass, which does not go away, while doing a breast self-exam at any age, she should get it checked out, says Dr. Silber.;
More than half of the time, women detect breast cancers themselves when they notice an unusual breast change.;Whenever there is a new mass or lump, tell your doctorit should be evaluated by a clinical physical examination followed by breast imaging, says Dr. Andrejeva-Wright. Other signs to be aware of include asymmetry of the breasts and nipple changes such as discharge or peeling skin around the nipple.;
Says Dr. Andrejeva-Wright, These symptoms dont mean you have breast cancer, but its a reason to seek an opinion from a medical provider.;
Risk For Different Age Groups
Although females are more likely to develop breast cancer after they reach the age of 50 years, younger women can also develop this condition.
According to the NCI, the risk that a doctor will diagnose breast cancer in a female in the United States within the next 10 years is:
- 1 in 227 for those aged 30 years
- 1 in 68 for those aged 40 years
- 1 in 42 for those aged 50 years
- 1 in 28 for those aged 60 years
- 1 in 26 for those aged 70 years
The also report that of the 437,722 females that doctors diagnosed breast cancer in between 2012 and 2016:
- 1.9% were aged 2034 years
- 8.4% were aged 3544 years
- 20.1% were aged 4455 years
- 25.6% were aged 5564 years
- 24.8% were aged 6574 years
- 13.7% were aged 7584 years
- 5.6% were aged 84 years+
Age is just one risk factor for developing breast cancer. Some other risk factors that people cannot control include:
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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.
The Big Debate: Do Mammograms Save Lives
Between 1975 and 2000, dramatic improvements in treatments for breast cancer became available. Surgery options were improved, important chemotherapy agents were discovered, and tamoxifen, a hormonal treatment for estrogen-sensitive breast cancer, came into widespread use. At the same time, mammography became more popular. In 2000, about 70% of women 40 and over reported that they had a mammogram within the previous two years. Despite changes in guidelines increasing the recommended age to 50, in 2018, about 67% of women aged 40 and over reported that they had a mammogram within the previous two years.
The result of these important advances, as well as a decrease in the use of hormone therapy for menopause, has been a dramatic decrease in the number of breast cancer deaths, even while more cases of breast cancer were being diagnosed. The five-year survival rate for breast cancer increased from 75% between 1974 and 1976, to 91% between 2005 and 2011. Death rates, on average, have been falling by 1.4% a year from 2009 to 2018. Have the survival rates improved because of mammography or because of better treatments?
Having fewer women die of breast cancer does not, however, mean that fewer women die.;;None of the studies that evaluate the impact of mammography do so in terms of lives saved. Instead, they evaluate the number of women who die of breast cancer specifically.
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Inherited Versus Acquired Dna Mutations
Normal breast cells become cancer because of changes in DNA. DNA is the chemical in our cells that makes up our genes. Genes have the instructions for how our cells function.
Some DNA mutations are inherited or passed to you from your parents. This means the mutations are in all your cells when you are born.;Some mutations can greatly increase the risk of certain cancers. They cause many of the cancers that run in some families and often cause cancer when people are younger.
But most DNA mutations linked to breast cancer are acquired. This means the change takes place in breast cells during a person’s life rather than having been inherited or born with them. Acquired DNA mutations take place over time and are only in the breast cancer cells.
Mutated DNA can lead to mutated genes. Some genes control when our cells grow, divide into new cells, and die. Changes in these genes can cause the cells to lose normal control and are linked to cancer.
What Matters Most To You
Your personal feelings are just as important as the medical facts. Think about what matters most to you in this decision, and show how you feel about the following statements.
Reasons to start mammograms at age 40
Reasons to start mammograms at age 50
I’m worried that I might get breast cancer at an earlier age.
I’m not too worried that I might get breast cancer at an earlier age.
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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.
How Has The Risk Of Being Diagnosed With Breast Cancer Changed In Recent Years
For a woman born in the 1970s in the United States, the lifetime risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer, based on breast cancer statistics from that time, was just under 10% .;
The last five annual SEER Cancer Statistics Review reports show the following estimates of lifetime risk of breast cancer, all very close to a lifetime risk of 1 in 8:
- 12.83%, based on statistics for 2014 through 2016 ;
- 12.44%, based on statistics for 2013 through 2015
- 12.41%, based on statistics for 2012 through 2014
- 12.43%, based on statistics for 2011 through 2013
- 12.32%, based on statistics for 2010 through 2012
SEER statisticians expect some variability from year to year. Slight changes may be explained by a variety of factors, including minor changes in risk factor levels in the population, slight changes in breast cancer screening rates, or just random variability inherent in the data.
Howlader N, Noone AM, Krapcho M, et al. . SEER Cancer Statistics Review, 19752017, National Cancer Institute. Bethesda, MD, , based on November 2019 SEER data submission, posted to the SEER web site, April 2020.
- Reviewed:December 16, 2020
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When To Euthanize A Dog With Breast Cancer
Putting a beloved pet to sleep is never easy but must be considered once mammary cancer has spread or progressed too far.;
If your pet shows any of the following signs, you may need to discuss possible euthanization with your veterinarian:
- Refusal to eat for extended periods
- Continual vomiting or diarrhea
- Difficulty moving
If you notice any drastic negative change in your dogs behavior, monitor them carefully and consult your vet to discuss your options.
Normal Breast Changes Through Life
The female breast will go through various normal changes over the course of a lifetime. Many of these changes are driven by hormones. They can be related to the menstrual cycle, pregnancy or the normal aging process. Most breast changes are not cancer, however, if you do notice an unusual breast change, it is important that you speak with your doctor so that it can be checked as soon as possible.
Normal breast changes throughout life include:
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What Else Do You Need To Make Your Decision
Check the facts
- That’s right. The risk for breast cancer goes up as you get older. In general, women younger than 50 are at a lower risk for breast cancer.
- Sorry, that’s not right. The risk for breast cancer goes up as you get older. In general, women younger than 50 are at a lower risk for breast cancer.
- It may help to go back and read “Get the Facts.” The risk for breast cancer goes up as you get older. In general, women younger than 50 are at a lower risk for breast cancer.
- That’s right. Studies show that a small number of women who have mammograms may be less likely to die from breast cancer. Since the risk for breast cancer goes up as you get older, women ages 50 to 70 are more likely to benefit from having mammograms than women who are in their 40s.
- Sorry, that’s not right. Studies show that a small number of women who have mammograms may be less likely to die from breast cancer. Since the risk for breast cancer goes up as you get older, women ages 50 to 70 are more likely to benefit from having mammograms than women who are in their 40s.
- It may help to go back and read “Get the Facts.” Studies show that a small number of women who have mammograms may be less likely to die from breast cancer. Since the risk for breast cancer goes up as you get older, women ages 50 to 70 are more likely to benefit from having mammograms than women who are in their 40s.
Take a group of women who have a mammogram every year for 10 years .3
Understanding the evidence
What Are Breast Lobes And Breast Ducts
Each female breast contains 15-20 sections called lobes. Each lobe is made up of many smaller sacs called; lobules . It is these lobules that produce milk in breastfeeding women. The lobes and lobules are connected to the nipple by tubes called ducts, which carry milk to the nipple. Milk flows through the nipple to the outside during breastfeeding.
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Who Should Get Screened
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force suggest that females aged 5074 years who are at average risk of developing breast cancer should go for screening every 2 years.
Those aged 4049 years, particularly those with a higher risk of breast cancer, should speak to their doctor about the risks and benefits of undergoing regular screening.
Doctors tend to use a mammogram to screen people for breast cancer. A mammogram is a breast X-ray that can help detect breast cancer early on, before it starts to produce symptoms.
Other exams available for people at a higher risk of breast cancer include:
There are both risks and benefits associated with regularly screening for breast cancer. Many people conclude that the benefits outweigh the risks, but getting screened is a personal decision.
The risks of screening for breast cancer include:
- False positives: A false positive occurs when a test result falsely suggests that a person has cancer. False positives can prompt additional tests, which may cause anxiety and can be expensive and time consuming.
- Overtreatment: Some cancers are benign and do not go on to cause symptoms or other problems. Treating these types of cancers is called overtreatment, and it can lead to unnecessary side effects, expense, and anxiety.
- False negatives: A false negative occurs when a test result misses the presence of a cancer. False negatives can delay diagnosis and treatment.
Benefits Of Mammographic Screening
The ACS systematic review also examined the effect of screening mammography on life expectancy. Although the review concluded that there was high-quality evidence that mammographic screening increases life expectancy by decreasing breast cancer mortality, the authors were not able to estimate the size of the increase 23.
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