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Topic: 20 year old with symtoms, could I have cancer?

Forum: Not Diagnosed but Worried — Meet others worried about developing breast cancer for the first time.

Posted on: Jan 16, 2012 02:47PM

Alyssa91 wrote:

Hello, i'm 20 years old and recently (about 3 weeks ago) I found a lump, about 2cm on my right breast, and I know I'm really young, but this past summer my mother noticed my right breast was bigger than my left so I got an appointment with a specialist. My specialist didn't find anything on the ultrasound so I wasnt worried, but given that my grandmother on my mother's side had breast cancer, I'm worried. I've set an appointment with the doctor Wednesday, but I'm really nervous.

How likely is it that I have cancer? If I do what are my options and survival chances?

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Jan 16, 2012 04:08PM leaf wrote:


It is quite unlikely that you have breast cancer, but its not impossible.

20 year olds don't even show up in this chart, but for  a 30 year old, about 3 to 4 out of 1000 women who are now aged 30 will get breast cancer by the time they reach 40 years old. www.cdc.gov/cancer/breast/stat... Another source said worldwide, the chance of a 20-29 year old woman to get breast cancer is about 1 in 2000. http://www.worldwidebreastcancer.com/learn/breast-cancer-statistics-worldwide/

Was your grandmother's breast cancer premenopausal, or before the age of 50?  Even if your grandmother was <50 years old at diagnosis, if there were no other cases of breast or ovarian cancer in your 1st or 2nd degree relatives, then you probably wouldn't trigger this USPTF guidelines for BRCA testing. www.uspreventiveservicestaskfo... In any event, only about 5-15% of breast cancers are thought to be from a single hereditary mutation.

Survival chances are very hard to predict, because it depends on a lot of different factors, including if you have involvement of the lymph nodes, 'personality' of the cancer, etc.  But to give you some sort of number, this chart, which is VERY OLD, thus treatments are OUT OF DATE (This data is about from 1988 to 2001), says that in general 2 cm tumors have about an 88% survival rate (last page). seer.cancer.gov/publications/survival/surv_breast.pdf

So, unless you have a lot of undiscovered first degree relatives that had breast or ovarian cancer, or you have a history of radiation TREATMENT to the chest, such as for Hodgkin's disease or lived near Chernobyl nuclear plant, then I'd say your chances of having breast cancer are quite low.  

Its natural to be scared when you are ruling out something that can threaten your life.  But I still encourage you to keep your appointment and get it checked out.  You may learn some things about your breasts.  Benign lumps or cysts are very common in young women.

Feel free to ask questions or vent, OK?


If you're going through hell, keep going-Winston Churchill

Dx 12/8/2005, LCIS, Stage 0, ER+/PR-Hormonal Therapy 07/15/2006 Tamoxifen
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Jan 16, 2012 04:19PM, edited Jan 16, 2012 04:19PM by Artemis

Alyssa91 ~ Of course you're nervous, sweetie!  *hugs*  

As leaf said, your chances of having breast cancer are very, very small, but you're smart to be getting it checked out.  Let us know how you get on.

Artemis 

DD ACx4, Tx4. BMX 6/1/2009. Tamoxifen: 55 bottles. Rads 28/28. Herceptin 18/18

Dx 1/6/2009, IDC, 5cm, Stage IIb, Grade 3, 1/2 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2+Targeted Therapy HerceptinSurgery Mastectomy (Right); Prophylactic Mastectomy (Left)Chemotherapy Adriamycin, Cytoxan, TaxolRadiation Therapy ExternalHormonal Therapy 06/16/2009 TamoxifenSurgery 12/11/2013 Reconstruction: Tissue expander placement (Both)
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Jan 16, 2012 05:01PM MiniMacsMom wrote:

On the BRCA note, if you have a trending of Prostate, colon, breast, ovarian, melanoma or pancreatic, those can all be related to BRCA 2, though everything other than breast or ovarian is low risk. This is how my family manifests BRCA2, I am the first with Breast cancer, we have prostate, pancreatic and possible OC :)  Anyway, I dont' mean to scare you but my genetic counsellor didn't think I would be BRCA postitive based on my family history, but i am BRCA 2 positive.  Also, not a racist question but do you have any blood relatives or are you jewish, there are three BRCA genes that are passed along that originated in a sect of Jewish families.  I sincerely hope that everything turns out fine and statitics show that they should, but keep an eye or feel on your boobies ;)

Generally though for women your age, its rare to have breast cancer.  If you are truely concerned I would ask for an MRI, it is more sensive than an US or mammogram in young boobies.  You may have trouble getting your insurance to pay for it though because the US was negative.  Definately monitor everything and see the specialist for check ups or if there is a change :). 

Diagnosis: 10/25/2011, IDC, 9cm, Stage IIIa, Grade 3, 4/15 nodes + Rotter's Node, ER+/P+-, HER2-, BRCA 2+

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Jan 16, 2012 11:47PM, edited Jan 16, 2012 11:49PM by Beesie

Alyssa, nothing is impossible but it is extremely unlikely that your lump is breast cancer. As leaf mentioned, the likelihood that a woman will get breast cancer between the ages of 20 to 29 is 1 in 2000. What's important to understand is that this is your risk over the entire 10 year period of your 20s; this means that your risk in any one year is only 1/10th of this amount, or 1 in 20,000. And since risk increases as we age, your risk now, at age 20, is actually much lower than that.

What's much more likely is that your lump is something like a fibroadenoma.  I had one at 16 and another at 20. Fibroadenomas are the most common lump in teenage girls and young women, and they are harmless.  The best way to tell if your lump is a fibroadenoma is with an ultrasound - usually the characteristics of a fibroadenoma show up quite clearly on ultrasounds.  Hopefully the doctor you see on Wednesday will send you for another ultrasound, and that hopefully will confirm that you have nothing to worry about.  However, if the image isn't perfectly clear, then the doctor might suggest a needle biopsy.  If that happens, don't worry.  The purpose of the biopsy would just be to confirm that lump is something benign like a fibroadenoma. 

Good luck on Wednesday.  Let us know what happens. 

Dx 9/15/05, DCIS-MI, 6cm+ Gr3 DCIS w/IDC microinvasion, Stage I, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR- “No power so effectually robs the mind of all its powers of acting and reasoning as fear.” Edmund Burke