For an average teen, breast cancer is something to think about in the near future. Did you think it only affects the average older woman? Not always. Breast cancer can develop in an adolescent girl, as well. It is rare, with the chances being about 1 in 1 million, but possible.
Adolescents only make up 7% of all breast cancer cases. However, out of all adolescent cancers, breast cancer steals the first place at 14%. If you’re a teenager, pay attention to your breasts. They’ll change greatly over the next few years. Hormones will go crazy, making your body and breasts do strange things. But not all changes are related to breast cancer. Before you jump to conclusions, here are some facts you need to be aware of about adolescence breast cancer.1
What Are Breast Lumps?
In teenage girls, estrogen, and progesterone fuel breast development. It’s normal to feel lumps that come and go. Sometimes, problems with tissue growth can create a lump, but most are not cancerous. About 91% are fibroadenomas, an overgrowth of connective breast tissue.
The lump is often hard, rubbery, and movable. Cysts and injuries (like slipping on the stairs) may also cause lumps. As you can see, the chances of cancer are extremely low.2
Symptoms Of Breast Cancer Tumors
To put your mind at ease, have an idea about the signs of a typical breast cancer tumor. The lump will have the following characteristics:
- Irregular edges
Older women may have other symptoms like nipple discharge, inverted nipple, skin dimpling, or thickening skin. In teens, breast cancer rarely causes these signs.3
Risk Factors Of Breast Cancer In Teens
In adults, years of bad lifestyle habits and other environmental factors result in the formation of cancer. But, it’s a different story for adolescents. Breast cancer in teens is highly genetic and stems from a family history of the disease. If you’re concerned, talk to a doctor about your specific risk level.4
How Is Breast Cancer Diagnosed?
Mammograms can find suspicious lumps, but for teenagers, it’s not a smart choice. Since teenage breasts are quite dense, mammograms can’t really find much. It’s even harder when your breasts are on the smaller side. Plus, as a type of x-ray, mammograms increase exposure to radiation. This can be harmful to breasts.
If something seems strange, the doctor will prescribe an ultrasound. This imaging test uses high-frequency waves to look inside the body. But unlike x-rays, ultrasounds don’t call for radiation and hence is a safer bet for teens.5
Types Of Teen Breast Cancer
Remember, there are many types of cancers that are formed beyond the breasts. Especially for adolescents, secretory carcinoma is the most common kind. It’s actually nicknamed “juvenile carcinoma.” But there’s good news! According to The Journal of Breast Health, secretory carcinoma rarely grows and spreads. Treatment and recovery are almost always successful.6
So, all in all, you can see that breast cancer in teens is very, very rare. However, that doesn’t mean it’s too early to think about prevention. Eat a healthy, well-rounded diet and stay active. Make these habits for life. You can also do regular breast self-exams. This way, you can find changes as soon as they show up.
How To Do A Breast Self-Exam
The National Breast Cancer Foundation recommends doing this self-exam once a month.7
- Lie down on your bed.
- Place a pillow under your right shoulder.
- Stretch your right arm behind your head.
- Place your left-hand fingers on your right breast.
- Gently move it in circular motions in and around the breast.
- Repeat with light, medium, and firm pressure.
- Repeat on the other side.
In conclusion, breast cancer is not common in teens and shouldn’t be a cause of constant worry. However, it’s good to take precautionary measures, observe your body often, and follow a healthy lifestyle.
|↑1||Gewefel, Hanan, and Bodour Salhia. “Breast cancer in adolescent and young adult women.” Clinical breast cancer 14, no. 6 (2014): 390-395.|
|↑2||Kaneda, Heather J., Julie Mack, Claudia J. Kasales, and Susann Schetter. “Pediatric and adolescent breast masses: a review of pathophysiology, imaging, diagnosis, and treatment.” American Journal of Roentgenology 200, no. 2 (2013): W204-W212.|
|↑3||Breast Cancer Signs and Symptoms. American Cancer Society.|
|↑4||What Are the Differences Between Cancers in Adults and Children? American Cancer Society.|
|↑5||Ultrasound. MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine.|
|↑6||Aktepe, Fatma, Dauren Sarsenov, and Vahit Özmen. “Secretory Carcinoma of the Breast.” The Journal of Breast Health 12, no. 4 (2016): 174.|
|↑7||Breast Self-Exam. National Breast Cancer Foundation.|