Breast cancer is a health problem that may affect both men in women. However, the chances of men being affected by breast cancer is rare but when it occurs its generally more fatal than in the female because of the difference in anatomy of the male breasts. In females, adults from 40 years and above are more likely to get breast cancer than those younger than 40 years. Hence, breast cancer is more common in this age group.
However, it is not impossible for women younger than 40, especially within the age group of 19 – 40, to get breast cancer. According to popular research, in women under 40, African American women and African women are more likely to get breast cancer than white women.
When breast cancer occurs in young women, it is usually worse than in older women because of the following factors
- Young women are generally not bothered about breast cancer and are therefore not as careful and weary of risk factors nor are they as conscious as they should be in changes in their body. As a result, when they are diagnosed with breast cancer its usually almost too late or in some cases too late to control the spread of the cancer.
- Diagnosing breast cancer in younger women is more difficult because of the fact that their breast tissue is denser than in older women. Hence, a lump is not easily noticed and by the time it is, it is often mistaken for a harmless cyst.
- Also, breast cancer in younger women can be aggressive and un-respondent to treatments.
The majority of significant risk factors for breast cancer are gender and age. Some of the risk factors of breast cancer in older women are the same for younger women as well as other factors. Risk factors of breast cancer in younger women are as follows;
- A history of breast cancer in the family. That is, in the event that a close relative has had breast cancer, then such a person will have higher risk of breast cancer.
- Exposure to radiation such as x-rays, fallout from nuclear explosives testing, and radioactive materials released to the environment from coal and nuclear power plants. Including radiation treatments to the chest at young ages.
- BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation or close relatives with mutation on these breast cancer genes
- Early onset of menstruation as a woman who got her period before the age of 12 is at a higher risk of getting breast cancer than those who started menstruation after the age of 12.
- The age a woman had her first child.
- High alcohol intake
- Dense breast
- Hormone replacement therapy
Reducing Risk of Breast Cancer
- Be familiar with the look and feel of your breasts: breasts examinations are quite easy and can be done without any medical help. They help in knowing the normal feel of your breast and can help in discovering lumps early. Also, sudden changes in the size or shape of the breast, pain in the breast, nipple discharge such as blood, or other symptoms should be reported to the doctor immediately.
- Consult your doctor if you have higher risks: if you feel you are at higher risk of breast cancer in relation to the risk factors above, then consult your doctor on ways to manage the risk. Your doctor may suggest genetic counselling or getting mammograms earlier and more often than other women.
Treatment of Breast Cancer in Younger Women:
In the event that breast cancer is not detected early, it could spread to other parts of the bode, making the cancer worse. Decisions for the treatment of breast cancer are based on whether or not the cancer has spread beyond the breast to other parts of the body. Treatment could include:
- Removal of the tumor and surrounding tissues by surgery or removal of the affected breast.
- Radiation usually follows lumpectomy, the removal of the lumps.
- Chemotherapy and hormone therapy are recommended after surgery to destroy any remaining cancer cells and prevent future occurrences.