Breast Cancer In Teens - Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis & Treatment

Breast Cancer In Teens

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The thought of breast cancer can send shivers down your spine. It is a rather common form of cancer, which can lead to many complications and adverse effects. Moreover, it can affect women at any age, and sometimes it can affect teens. But don’t panic! Read our post here to learn some little-known facts, causes, and symptoms of breast cancer in teens!

What Is Breast Cancer?

The human body constitutes of tiny cells that regenerate on its own. The body automatically creates the healthy new cells after the death of the older ones. It also includes the cells in the breasts. But when the cell transforms into a harmful form, which eventually divides and multiplies at a rapid pace it gives rise to a painful tumor. A mass or lump of abnormal body cells forms within the breast, and it gives rise to breast cancer.

Breast cancer is a typical form of malignant tumor that develops in your teen’s breast. The cancerous cells can even spread to the other breast and felt a lump. In rare cases, breast cancer spreads to other parts of your teen’s body which include the bones, the liver, or elsewhere (1).

Important Facts About Breast Cancer In Teens:

  • Breast cancer is one of the commonly diagnosed disease found in women of different ages including teenagers.
  • Breast cancer is the second leading cause to impose women death.
  • About 85 percent of the breast cancer occurs in those teenagers who have a family history of the disease.
  • Practicing healthy exercise and the dietary regime is extremely beneficial to breast cancer survivors.
  • The most significant factors to elevate the risk of breast cancer are gender (being a woman) and age (growing older).
  • There are different types of breast cancer that depend upon their capacity of spreading to the other body tissues.
  • Doctors diagnose breast cancer through examination of the breasts, ultrasound testing, biopsy, and mammography.
  • Treatment of breast cancer in teens completely depends on the stage (0-IV) and type of cancer.
  • The variant treatment procedure that involves in breast cancer treatment is surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy (2)

Types Of Breast Cancer In Teens:

Some of the most common types of breast cancer in teens are:

  • Ductal carcinoma in situ-The noninvasive breast cancer never spreads to other body tissues and hence they possess a very high cure rate.
  • Invasive ductal carcinoma- This cancer grows in the duct of tour teen’s breast and spreads to the surrounding tissues. About 80 percent of the breast cancer are invasive ductal carcinoma.
  • Invasive lobular carcinoma- The cancerous cells grows in the glands of your teen’s breasts that produce milk. About 10 percent of invasive breast cancer is of this type.
  • Mucinous carcinoma-The mucus-producing cancer cells grows in your teen’s breasts.
  • Inflammatory breast cancer- The cancerous cells make your teen’s breasts appear red and warm. The harmful cells block the lymph vessels.
  • Paget’s disease of the nipple- The cancer cells grow in the ducts of your teen’s breasts and spreads to the nipple and surrounding region. The significant characteristics of the cancer are crusting and redness around the nipple (3).

Stages Of Breast Cancer:

The stages of breast cancer usually range from 0 to IV, and the most advanced stage is IV.

Here is a brief description of each of the breast cancer stage:

  • Stages 0- In this stage, the cancer cells are noninvasive, and they are present within the nipples, milk ducts and lobules.
  • Stage I- The cancer cells grows like a tumor of almost two centimeters. The cancer cells do not spread to other body parts outside the breast. However, the small cluster of cells spreads to the lymph nodes.
  • Stage II- The cancer cell grows eventually .but still exists in the breast and spreads to the lymph nodes, but not beyond that.
  • Stage III- The cancer cells start spreading beyond the lymph nodes and muscles. However, cancer yet does not reach to other body organs.
  • Stage IV-The stage known as metastatic breast cancer, cancer spreads to different body parts such as bones, lungs, liver, or brain (4).

Causes Of Breast Cancer In Teens:

There are no definite causes of breast cancer in teens. However, there exist several factors to uplift the risks of breast cancer. Some of such factors are:

  • Family history- Teens having a family history of breast cancer are more susceptible to the harmful infections.
  • Age- With growing age the risk of breast cancer predominantly increases in females.
  • Diet and lifestyle choices- Teens addicted to smoking, alcohols and eating high fat diets are at greater risk of developing breast cancer. Most of the experts recommend practicing regular exercises and eating healthy foods to ward off the disease (5).

Symptoms Of Breast Cancer In Teens:

A teen suffering from breast cancer may not experience recognizable symptom or extreme pain in her breasts. With the gradual passage of time, the breasts become hard, and your teen feels lumps in her breasts.

All breast lumps do not indicate breast cancer, but the doctor examines them closely to identify the disorder. Breast lumps that are not cancer are cysts (fluid-filled lumps or sacs), or they are normal breast changes associated with hormonal transformation.

Your teenager will notice a lump underneath her nipple, as she reaches her age of puberty. During this stage, her breasts start developing, and the occurrence of the lump is quite normal.

Some of the common symptoms of breast cancer in teen are:

  • Bloody discharge from the nipple
  • Feeling the existence of a breast lump
  • Change in the size, shape or appearance of a breast
  • Redness around the skin of breast
  • Changes to the skin over the breast
  • Flaking or peeling of the pigmented area of skin surrounding the nipple
  • Nipple that is turning inward
  • Skin irritation on or around the breast
  • Nipple discharge that is not milk
  • Enlarged lymph nodes (6)

What Are The Risk Factors Associated With Breast Cancer In Teens?

Here are some of the elevating factors to increase the risk of breast cancer in teens:

  • Being Female- Teenager girls or women are at higher risks of developing breast cancer than males. In America, 1 out of 10 women is a victim of breast cancer.
  • Increasing age-With rising age, the risk of breast cancer in female increases.
  • Personal history of breast cancer- If your teenager already had breast cancer in one of her breasts, the chances of developing or spreading cancer to the other breast is higher.
  • The family history of breast cancer- If any of your family members including mother, sister or grandmother did suffer from breast cancer at a young age, your teen’s risk to develop breast cancer is high.
  • Inherited genes to increase breast cancer risk- Certain gene mutations elevate the risk of breast cancer in teens when these genes pass from your body to your child. The most common gene mutations include BRCA1 and BRCA2.The following genes increases the risk of breast cancer in your offspring.
  • Obesity- Overweight or obesity increase you teen’s risk to develop breast cancer at her tender age.
  • Radiation exposure- During your teen’s tender age, if she gets excessive exposure to radiation treatments, her tendency to develop breast cancer is high.
  • Periods at a younger age- Beginning of your teen’s period or menstrual cycle before the age of 12 years increases her risk of breast cancer.
  • Alcohol and smoking- If your teen has a higher addiction towards smoking and taking alcohols regularly, her risk to develop breast cancer is higher (7).

Diagnosis Of Breast Cancer In Teens:

Let us pay a close emphasis on the medical diagnosis procedures that doctors employ in detection of breast cancer in teens:

1. Breast Exam:

  • The doctor examines your teen’s breast closely and checks the existence of lumps or any other abnormalities.
  • The doctor further interrogates your teen, if she experiences breast pain or bloody discharge from her nipples.
  • A close physical examination of your teen’s breasts is the foremost step to diagnose the noticeable symptoms of breast cancer.

2. Mammogram:

  • A mammogram is a specialized X-ray for breasts.
  • A mammogram is crucial medical test used for the diagnosis of breast cancer.
  • The test easily detects any abnormalities in your ten’s breasts.
  • The doctor may recommend a diagnostic mammogram to evaluate further the type of abnormality.

3. Breast Ultrasound:

  • Ultrasound utilizes sound waves to produce images of your teen’s breasts.
  • Ultrasound makes it easier to detect the existence of solid mass or fluid-filled cyst in the breasts.

4. Biopsy:

  • The doctor extracts the sample of breast cell from your teen’s breasts and uses them for further examination.
  • The biopsy analyzes the breast cells and determines whether it’s cancerous or not.

5. Breast Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI):

During the medical test, the examiner uses an MRI machine to generate magnet and radio waves to get pictures of your teen’s breast interior.

Once the doctor diagnoses the existence of cancerous cells in your teen’s breasts, he may further recommend performing certain other examination to determine the stage of cancer. By knowing the stage, the doctor can perform the prognosis and offer suitable treatment options.

Some of the common medical tests that determine the stage of breast cancer are:

  • Computerized tomography (CT) scan
  • Blood tests, such as a complete blood count
  • Positron emission tomography (PET) scan
  • Bone scan (8)

Treating Breast Cancer In Teens:

Treatment of breast cancer usually depends on the stage and type of cancer your teen suffers.

Here are some of the common treatment options:

1. Lumpectomy:

  • It is a surgical procedure in which the doctor removes the cancerous tumor from your teen’s breast.
  • Your teen goes through the surgical procedure if her cancer is in early stages, and the lump is too small.

2. Mastectomy:

  • In the surgical procedure, the doctor removes the whole breast.
  • The doctor conducts mastectomy when the cancerous cells have already spread to other parts of your teen’s body.
  • The procedure removes all the cancerous cells from your teen’s body and prevents cancer from spreading into her body.

3. Sentinel Node Biopsy (Removal Of A Limited Number Of Lymph Nodes):

  • The doctor examines whether cancer has already spread to your teen’s lymph nodes.
  • The surgical procedure removes the limited number of harmful lymph nodes.

4. Axillary Lymph Node Dissection (Removal Of Several Lymph Nodes):

  • If cancer has already spread to a large number of lymph nodes, the surgery helps in removal of such lymph nodes.

5. Radiation Therapy:

  • The radiation therapy destroys all the harmful cancerous cells that exist in your teen’s body after lumpectomy or mastectomy.
  • The high energy X-rays destroys the cancerous cells and prevent them from spreading further.
  • Side effects of radiation therapy include severe fatigue and redness or sunburn-like rashes around the breast region.

6. Chemotherapy:

  • In chemotherapy, the special medicine travels throughout your teen’s entire body and destroys the cancerous cells.
  • Some of the common side effects of chemotherapy are hair loss, fatigue, nausea, and vomiting (9).

Preventing Breast Cancer In Teens:

Here are some of the preventive measures that help to prevent the risk of developing breast cancer at the tender age:

1. Examine Your Teen’s Breasts Closely And Ask Her To Perform Breast Self-Exam:

  • Your teens need to perform self-breast exam occasionally to detect the presence of abnormalities or lumps.
  • If she notices any abnormal growth or bloody discharge from her nipples, she needs to consult the doctor immediately.
  • Breast awareness safeguards your teen from breast cancer, and she easily understands about normal breast changes that occur with growing age.

2. Drink Alcohol In Moderation:

  • If your drink has an addiction towards alcohol, she must intake them in moderation.
  • Excessive intake of alcohol triggers the risk of developing breast cancer.

3. Exercise Everyday:

  • Your teen needs to devote at least 30 minutes of her day to practice exercises including yoga, aerobics, walking, swimming or cycling.
  • Exercise helps in removal of harmful toxins from her body and boosting the immune system.

4. Maintain A Healthy Body Weight:

  • Being obese or overweight increases your teen’s risk to suffer from breast cancer.
  • To maintain a healthy body weight, ask your teen to intake low fat diet comprising of nutritious foods.
  • Ask her to cut down her calories intake for each day and practice exercises to lose the extra pounds.

5. Choose A Healthy Diet:

  • Your teen needs to eat a nutritious and well-balanced diet to control her body weight and ward off breast cancer.
  • Teens eating a Mediterranean diet comprising of extra-virgin olive oil and mixed nuts have lower risks of breast cancer.
  • Some of the best foods to minimize the risk of breast cancer include plant-based foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, and legumes.

6. Managing Stress:

  • It is important for your teen to manage excess stress in her daily life.
  • Ask her to try some the stress-reduction natural techniques like muscle relaxation, massage therapy or visualization.
  • Spending time with close friends and family members is also effective in minimizing stress and leading a positive life (10).

Best Foods That Help You Teen To Fight Breast Cancer:

Some of the effective cancer-fighting foods that reduces your teen’s risk to develop breast cancer are:

1. Mushrooms:

  • Research concludes that intake of mushroom predominantly reduces the risk of breast cancer among teens.
  • Some of the effective mushroom variation like Cremini, oyster and shiitake contain the antioxidants known as L-ergothioneine. The element prevents the growth of cancer cells in your teen’s body.

2. Broccoli Sprouts:

  • The peppery broccoli sprouts contain a high proportion of antioxidant known as Sulforaphane. It easily destroys the cancer cells and prevents the tumor growth.
  • Add the sprouts in a variety of dishes like soups, sandwiches or salads.

3. Pomegranate:

  • The crunchy whitish seeds of pomegranate contain ellagic acid, a potent antioxidant that helps to prevent breast cancer development.
  • The fruit is a rich source of antioxidants and improves heart heath.
  • Your teen can intake pure pomegranate juice, one cup (250 ml) a day or half the fruit to prevent the growth of cancer cells.

4. Lentils:

  • Higher intake legumes including lentils and beans help in reducing the risk of breast cancer in teens.
  • Lentils contain a high amount of folate, fiber and a host of other nutrients that helps to ward off breast cancer.

5. Walnuts:

  • Walnuts contain a high proportionofomega-3s, antioxidants and phytosterols that slow the growth rate of the harmful cancerous cells.
  • Snacking two ounces (60 g) of walnuts everyday day help your teen to prevent the risk of breast cancer tumors.

6. Blueberries:

  • Blueberries contain an essential phytonutrient, pterostilbene that halts the growth of breast cancer tumors.
  • The phytonutrient triggers self-destruction of the cancer cells, the process known as apoptosis.

7. Eggs:

  • The essential nutrient Choline present in eggs reduces the risk of breast cancer in women.
  • The typical nutrient, found in the yolk improves cell functioning and hampers growth of the breast cancer tumor.
  • Some of the other dietary sources of Choline are pork, fish, poultry, beef, broccoli and wheat germ.

8. Salmon:

  • Salmon contains a high proportion of Vitamin D, which reduces the risk of developing breast cancer. Vitamin D prevents the healthy cells from becoming harmful and cancerous.
  • Intake of salmon provides docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), a typical form of omega-3 fat that destroys the breast cancer cells and prevents spread of the infection to other body parts.

9. Flaxseed:

  • Intake of either whole seed, ground or flaxseed oil supplies essential omega-3 fats and fibers to the body.
  • The fibers, lignans, and helpful nutrients serve as a protective shield against cancer cells causing breast cancer.
  • You teen can intake flaxseed mixed in her yogurt or smoothie to enjoy the nutty flavor. Additionally, flaxseed oil serves as salad dressings or used in baking cookies and muffins.

10. Brazil Nuts:

  • Brazil nuts contain a high proportion of selenium, fiber, and phytochemicals that help to boost the immune system, fight inflammation and prevent tumor growth.

11. Garlic:

  • Garlic is a rich source of cancer-fighting component, allium. The key ingredient slows the tumor growth and prevents the risk of breast cancer in teens.
  • Garlic serves as the main ingredient in a variety of cuisines including Italian, Spanish, Indian, Thai and Chinese dishes.
  • Ask your teen to take crushed garlic every morning to lead a cancer-free life.

12. Dark Green Leafy Vegetables:

  • Dark green leafy vegetables like kale or spinach contain a high amount of fiber, Vitamin B, chlorophyll and phytochemical. This element helps to ward off breast cancer.

13. Green Tea:

  • Regular consumption of green tea helps in lowering the risk of breast cancer in teens.
  • The phytochemicals in green tea help your teen to keep breast cancer at bay.

14. Peppers:

  • Different variety of pepper including Chilli and jalapeno peppers contain the element capsaicin that fights and halts the growth rate of cancer cells.
  • Green pepper rich in chlorophyll eliminates carcinogens present in the gut and helps prevent breast cancer.
  • Red pepper contains both capsaicin and antioxidant carotenoids that help to ward off cancer risks.

15. Turmeric:

  • The popular Indian spice contains the cancer-fighting compound called curcumin. The element helps to prevent different types of cancer including breast, lung, skin and gastrointestinal.

Important Points To Remember:

  • Your teen needs to remain aware of her breast health and in the case of any abnormalities get the expert advice immediately.
  • If your teen is a victim of breast cancer, offer her requisite mental support to cope with the stressful situation.
  • Take her to the community of breast cancer survivors, so that she feels positive and gets boosted to go through the treatment options like chemotherapy or radiation therapy.
  • Many of the breast cancer survivors suffer experience fatigue after their tiresome treatment procedure. With effective stress relieving therapies and alternative medications they can easily cope up with the situation.
  • Let your teen express her emotions to you, so that you can boost her morale and make her feel positive about life.

With such effective protective measures and intake of cancer-fighting foods, you eventually minimize the risk of breast cancer in your teen.

Does your teen suffer from breast cancer? What treatment did the doctor suggest? Did you make any dietary and lifestyle changes in your teen’s life? Tell us about it here. Leave a comment in the box below!

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