How Do I Take Care Of My Breasts
The best thing you can do to protect yourself is to be breast aware from the age of 20. This means knowing how your breasts normally look and feel and regularly checking for any unusual changes.
Your breasts may feel heavy or tender before your period, so the best time to check is after your period finishes, once any discomfort has settled down. Show your doctor if you have any unusual symptoms that dont go away after your period, particularly if you can feel a lump, or thickened tissue in your breast, or notice a discharge or any skin or nipple changes. Of course, most changes are not caused by breast cancer but its important to have any new changes properly checked.
‘the Doctor Became Very Silent’
It was only by chance that Lucy got her lump checked. She had a day off work, so went while she was free.
“I think about this all the time”, she said.
“I’m so glad that I did have that day off.
“It would be a completely different story at this at this stage. It’s the reason why I’m here today.”
Even when the GP referred Lucy to a breast clinic, it still didn’t cross her mind it could be breast cancer.
But when her sister insisted on an ultrasound scan, Lucy started to realise something was wrong.
“The doctor became very silent,” she says.
A week later, she was told she had cancer. Soon, it spread to her lymph nodes.
Lucy was told she would need chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery.
“There were times where I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep,” she says.
“I would be awake for 20 hours in a day, not moving from the spot that I was laying in my bed.
“I looked so poorly, my skin was really bad, all of my hair fell out and I mean everything, eyebrows, lashes.”
After surgery and radiotherapy, Lucy finally got some good news – there were no more cancerous cells left.
Lucy still has hormone therapy and has been working with CoppaFeel! to spread the word that breast cancer can affect younger women.
“Don’t think it can’t happen to you. Not to be pessimistic, but it’s just awareness,” she says.
Breast Cancer: The Facts
Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in the UK, and most women who are diagnosed are over 50.
About one in eight women are diagnosed with breast cancer during their lifetime.
Men can also be diagnosed with the disease.
If it’s detected early, there is a good chance of recovery.
The first noticeable symptom is usually a lump or an area of thickened tissue in the breast.
Other signs can include a discharge from a nipple, a lump or swelling in an armpit, dimpling of skin on the breasts, a rash on or around the nipple and a change in appearance of a nipple, such as becoming sunken into the breast.
Women should check their breasts regularly and see a GP if they noticed any changes.
A GP may provide a referral for further tests such as a mammography or a biopsy.
Breast cancer is usually treated using a combination of surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
The exact causes aren’t fully understood, and it’s not possible to know if it can be prevented.
Risk factors include age, a family history of breast cancer, being tall, overweight or obese, and drinking alcohol.
Before starting her six-month course of chemotherapy in January 2017, Vicki tried, unsuccessfully to harvest her eggs, with a view to having children in the future.
She explained: “Initially, there was potential for four eggs and then it gradually went down to one and it was a phantom egg. So thats kaput for my eggs.
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Youngest Person To Be Diagnosed With Breast Cancer Is 8
Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer among women outside of skin cancer, with diagnosis rates as high as one in eight women in the U.S. But breast cancer mainly affects adult women, and its extremely rare for a young girl to be diagnosed with breast cancer.
One of the youngest patients ever diagnosed with breast cancer, however, is 8-year-old Chrissy Turner, a girl living in Utah. Chrissy discovered a lump on her chest in October, and was diagnosed with secretory carcinoma, an extremely rare form of the disease and one that is more likely to be found in older women. At only 8 years old, Chrissy and her parents were devastated to find out it was cancer.
I was scared to figure out what it was, Chrissy told ABC TV. But I knew I could fight it off and I hope that I can fight it off.
Both of Chrissys parents Annette and Troy Turner have battled cancer themselves. Annette Turner had cervical cancer, while Troy is currently battling Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. He was first diagnosed when Chrissy was an infant and had relied on her energy and charm to get him through his first rounds of chemotherapy.
She was our therapy when he was going through chemotherapy, Annette told The Guardian. She was always making us laugh and shes got the wit of someone far beyond her age.
Chrissy Turner waiting for treatment at a hospital.Facebook / Chrissy’s Alliance
Chrissy Turner will be undergoing a mastectomy in December.Facebook / Chrissy’s Alliance
Breast Cancer Screening Guidelines
MedStar Health doctors and the American Cancer Society recommend different screening guidelines based on the following risk categories:
- Examination by a trained professional every three years
Average risk may increase based on:
- Personal history of breast abnormalities
- Current age
High-risk: Family history of disease
- Women should be aware of any changes in their breasts. Monthly breast self-examination beginning at 20 years old is optional, but highly recommended.
- Clinical examination every six months starting 10 years before the age at which the youngest family member was diagnosed with the disease.
- Annual mammography starting 10 years before the age of the youngest family member with the disease .
- Consider annual MRI .
High-risk: Diagnosis of benign breast disease or breast cancer confined to the milk duct or lobule
- Women should be aware of any changes in their breasts. Monthly self-examination beginning at 20 years old is optional, but highly recommended.
- Clinical examination every six months beginning at time of diagnosis.
- Annual mammography beginning at the time of diagnosis.
- Consider annual MRI .
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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.
What Causes Breast Cancer
The cause of breast cancer in children is unknown, but certain risk factors are linked to the disease.
Risk factors for breast cancer in children, teens, and young adults includes:
- Past treatment with radiation therapy to the breast or chest for another cancer, such as Hodgkin lymphoma
- A personal history of a cancer that tends to spread to the breast, such as leukemia, lymphoma, rhabdomyosarcoma, or soft tissue sarcoma
- A family history of breast cancer in a close relative
- Inherited changes in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene or in other genes that increase the risk of breast cancer
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Are Women Under 40 At Risk For Breast Cancer
Younger women generally do not consider themselves to be at risk for breast cancer. However, breast cancer can strike at any age: 5% of breast cancer cases occur in women under 40 years of age. All women should be aware of their personal risk factors for breast cancer.
There are several factors that put a woman at higher risk for developing breast cancer, including:
- A personal history of breast cancer or a high risk lesion found by biopsy
- A family history of breast cancer, particularly at an early age
- A family history that is concerning for a genetic syndrome that may put them at a higher risk for breast cancer
- History of radiation therapy to the chest
- A known genetic mutation conferring a high risk for the development of breast cancer
- Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry
What Is A 5
A relative survival rate compares women with the same type and stage of breast cancer to women in the overall population. For example, if the 5-year relative survival rate for a specific stage of breast cancer is 70%, it means that women who have that cancer are, on average, about 70% as likely as women who dont have that cancer to live for at least 5 years after being diagnosed.
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Where Do These Numbers Come From
The American Cancer Society relies on information from the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results database, maintained by the National Cancer Institute , to provide survival statistics for different types of cancer.
The SEER database tracks 5-year relative survival rates for breast cancer in the United States, based on how far the cancer has spread. The SEER database, however, does not group cancers by AJCC TNM stages . Instead, it groups cancers into localized, regional, and distant stages:
- Localized: There is no sign that the cancer has spread outside of the breast.
- Regional: The cancer has spread outside the breast to nearby structures or lymph nodes.
- Distant: The cancer has spread to distant parts of the body such as the lungs, liver or bones.
Living With Breast Cancer
Dealing with breast cancer can be very hard for a woman and her family. A woman who has breast cancer surgery or treatment may not feel well for a while. She may be depressed if she had her breast removed. If a woman needs chemotherapy, she may lose her hair and she may feel sick to her stomach. She also may worry that the cancer will return and sheâll get sick again.
The good news is that many times, especially if a lump is caught early, women with breast cancer go on to live full, healthy lives after treatment. Some join support groups so they can talk to other women with breast cancer who are feeling the same emotions.
There are even groups that kids or other family members can join to talk about their feelings when someone they love has breast cancer. Find a trusted adult to talk with if youâre worried about a loved one.
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Breast Lumps In Teenagers
It can be normal to feel lumps when your breasts are developing and these often disappear on their own.
If a lump causes you any discomfort, appears to get bigger or youre worried about it, talk to someone such as your GP. You may also want to talk to someone in your family or a school nurse.
Although its very unlikely that theres anything wrong, a doctor can check it out and should put your mind at rest. You can ask to see a female doctor or the practice nurse if this will make you feel more comfortable.
Very occasionally lumps are a sign of a benign breast condition. Benign means harmless, and a benign condition will not become a breast cancer. The most common benign lump as the breasts are developing is known as a fibroadenoma.
How Common Is Breast Cancer In Teens
Even in young adult women, the odds of developing breast cancer are very low. Less than 5 percent of breast cancers occur in women under 40. At age 30, the risk of developing breast cancer is 0.44 percent. There are less than 25 cases of breast cancer per year in women in each age group under 30. Among teenagers, the figure is close to zero.
These statistics mean that issues with the breasts are almost certainly due to other causes and these are often just normal development.
Other reasons a teenager might develop a lump in her breast include:
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When You Cant 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 didnât 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.
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Recovering After Surgery Was The Hardest Part
I was keen to get started on my treatment and not wait around any longer. I think the news hit my family harder than me. My mum was with me when I was diagnosed, and my dad came down soon after that.
My treatment ended up being a mixutre of different things. I started on four rounds of AC chemotherapy and Docetaxel, but after my second round I had problems with my liver. It took me a month and a half to recover. My doctor said that we couldnt keep waiting around, so we discussed having surgery alongside the chemotherapy.
Within a week I had a consultation with the surgeon and a mastectomy on my left side with reconstruction. Initially, losing a part of your body feels like a shock, but I knew I needed to have the procedure for my own health.
It was the first time Id ever had surgery and I found the six weeks of recovery the hardest part. I couldnt do much and my mum and my boyfriend had to look after me. Im terrible at sitting in bed and not doing anything I always want to be up and about. Not being able to leave my house was awful.
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Is Teen Breast Cancer Common
Its normal for your breasts to change as you enter your teenage years. Increases and decreases in female hormones, such as estrogen and progesterone, may make your breasts tender.
Hormones can also cause you to feel thickening, and even some lumps and bumps, in your breasts as your period comes and goes each month.
Could those lumps and bumps be cancer? Its not likely. Its almost unheard of for girls ages 14 years and younger to develop breast cancer.
The chances increase slightly as girls move through their teenage years, but breast cancer in this age group is still very rare.
Between 2012 and 2016, the incidence rate for female breast cancer in 15- to 19-year-olds in the United States was
- It seems fixed to the chest wall and doesnt move around.
- It ranges in size from about the size of a pea to several inches in diameter.
- It might be painful.
Nipple discharge and having the nipple invert inward are possible symptoms of breast cancer in adult women. However, theyre not very common in teens with cancer.
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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Treating Inflammatory Breast Cancer
Inflammatory breast cancer that has not spread outside the breast is stage III. In most cases, treatment is chemotherapy first to try to shrink the tumor, followed by surgery to remove the cancer. Radiation and often other treatments, like more chemotherapy or targeted drug therapy, are given after surgery. Because IBC is so aggressive, breast conserving surgery and sentinel lymph node biopsy are typically not part of the treatment.
IBC that has spread to other parts of the body may be treated with chemotherapy, hormone therapy, and/or targeted drugs.
Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.
American Joint Committee on Cancer. Breast. In: AJCC Cancer Staging Manual. 8th ed. New York, NY: Springer 2017:589.
Curigliano G. Inflammatory breast cancer and chest wall disease: The oncologist perspective. Eur J Surg Oncol. 2018 Aug 44:1142-1147.
Hennessy BT, Gonzalez-Angulo AM, Hortobagyi GN, et al. Disease-free and overall survival after pathologic complete disease remission of cytologically proven inflammatory breast carcinoma axillary lymph node metastases after primary systemic chemotherapy. Cancer. 2006 106:10001006.
National Cancer Institute. Inflammatory Breast Cancer. 2016. Accessed at https://www.cancer.gov/types/breast/ibc-fact-sheet on August 30, 2021.