ON AIR NOW

LISTEN NOW

Weather

Sponsored By: Two Men and a Truck
cloudy-day Created with Sketch.
89°
Thunderstorms
H 90° L 75°
  • cloudy-day Created with Sketch.
    89°
    Current Conditions
    Thunderstorms. H 90° L 75°
  • partly-cloudy-tstorms-day Created with Sketch.
    78°
    Evening
    Thunderstorms. H 90° L 75°
  • cloudy-day Created with Sketch.
    76°
    Morning
    Cloudy. H 83° L 74°
LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest top stories

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest traffic report

00:00 | 00:00

LISTEN
PAUSE
ERROR

The latest forecast

00:00 | 00:00

Health
Q&A: Breast cancer in young women
Close

Q&A: Breast cancer in young women

Q&A: Breast cancer in young women

Q&A: Breast cancer in young women

Young women found the news surprising and more than a little scary: Cases of advanced breast cancer have been rising in women 25 to 39 over the past three decades, researchers reported in February 2013.

From 1976 to 2009, the number of cases of advanced breastcancer in younger women at the time of diagnosis increased, the researchers found, from 250 a year to 850 a year. 

Although those numbers sound scary, you have to take into account that the population of young women grew in that time period. When you look at the percentage of new cases, the increase is small and shows they nearly doubled: from 1.5 of every 100,000 younger women in 1976 to about 3 per 100,000 in 2009.

WebMD turned to two experts familiar with the study to offer perspective on the findings and suggestions on what younger women should do to protect their breast health. Len Lichtenfeld, MD, is deputy chief medical officer at the American Cancer Society. Laura Kruper, MD, is director of the Cooper Finkel Women's Health Center and co-director of the Breast Cancer Program at City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center in Duarte, Calif. 

Q: Can you put this new finding in perspective for younger women?

"Younger women should not become overly alarmed at the headline about the increased risk of advanced breast cancer in young women," Lichtenfeld says.

That's not to dismiss the seriousness of such a cancer diagnosis, he says. "It's a serious problem and it's especially difficult for young women and their families to go through."

However, he says, breast cancer in women age 40 and younger is not common. About 7% of all breast cancers occur in women before age 40.

For most younger women who are considered at average risk for breast cancer, the new study should serve primarily as a reminder to become more aware of their breast health, Lichtenfeld says.

A woman is considered at average risk if she does not have a strong family history of breast cancer or have genetic mutations (such as BRCA1 and BRCA2) that raise risk, he says.

While the research was well done, the increase in breast cancer in young women needs to be studied further, says Kruper: "The big question is why?"

That's not known from the study. Experts speculate it could be related to lifestyle changes, such as delayed childbearing, among other possibilities.

The study researchers speculate that improvement in imaging methods or increasing use of imaging may have meant patients were put in a higher ''stage'' group at diagnosis, resulting in more women being classified as having advanced cancer. While they found no direct evidence of that in the study, they say it could still be possible.

"We need to find out if it is a true phenomenon," Kruper says. Next, researchers could focus on why the increase is happening.

Q: Do the study findings suggest younger women not at high risk of breast cancer should begin to get routine mammograms or other imaging tests?

Absolutely not, Lichtenfeld and Kruper agree.

Q: What about breast self-exams?

"The American Cancer Society does not recommend routine breast self-exams," Lichtenfeld says.

Years ago, many organizations promoted breast self-exams, he says, distributing brochures and water-proof reminder cards to hang in the shower. "Then research showed that organized breast self-exam programs really did not lead to a reduction in the severity of breast cancer," he says.

Now, the American Cancer Society says that breast self-exams are ''an option for women starting in their 20s."

In the study, the researchers did not have any information on how the breast cancer was found initially or whether the women did breast self-exams.

Breast exams by a health care professional are recommended every three years for women in their 20s and 30s, and annually for those 40 and older, the society says.

Women should develop breast awareness, Lichtenfeld says. "They should know how their breasts normally feel, so when they shower or dress and feel something different than what they felt before, they should know they need to get that attended to," he says.

More often than not, he says, the changes are normal and noncancerous, but that should not be assumed by a woman or her doctor. 

Q: Are symptoms of breast cancer in younger women the same as in older?

Yes, Lichtenfeld says. These may include a mass in the breast, unexplained pain, a change in the texture of the skin, redness, or inflammation.

Any changes in the nipple should be looked at, too, says Kruper, as well as an enlargement in one breast only. 

Q: What should a woman do if she notices any of these symptoms?

"Go see your doctor and expect the symptoms to be taken seriously," Kruper says.

Q: What can women under 40 do to lessen breast cancer risk?

"Maintain a healthy body weight and exercise regularly," Lichtenfeld says. "Follow a healthy diet, preferably more plant-based than meat-based."

He gives the advice to keep a healthy body weight, he says, despite a lack of evidence of a link between obesity in childhood or young adulthood and breast cancer. "On the other hand, in postmenopausal women, obesity is a risk factor increasing the risk of breast cancer," he says.

Exercise should be consistent, Kruper says. She tells her patients to get in 40 minutes, four to five times a week. It should be a good cardiovascular workout, she says -- ''not just Pilates or yoga."

Be aware of how much alcohol you drink, Lichtenfeld and Kruper agree. Alcohol raises breast cancer risk, experts agree, but much is not known about the link. Even small amounts of alcohol have been linked with a higher risk, Lichtenfeld says. The American Cancer Society recommends no more than one drink a day, he says.

"According to the research, the less you drink the better," Lichtenfeld says.

SOURCES: Len Lichtenfeld, MD, deputy chief medical officer, American Cancer Society.Laura Kruper, MD, director, Cooper Finkel Women's Health Center and co-director, Breast Cancer Program, City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center, Duarte, Calif.Johnson, R. Journal of the American Medical Association, published online Feb. 27, 2013.American Cancer Society: "American Cancer Society Guidelines for the Early Detection of Cancer."

© 2013 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

Read More
VIEW COMMENTS

There are no comments yet. Be the first to post your thoughts. or Register.

The Latest News Headlines

  • Updated at 10:42: The Supreme Court will allow part of the travel ban to take effect; some immigrants will be banned from entering the country.  Update at 10:29 a.m. ET: The  Supreme Court has ruled that it will hear arguments over President Donald Trump’s second executive order banning travel to the United States. Original story: The Supreme Court will rule on Monday whether to hear the challenge to President Donald Trump’s executive order banning immigration from several predominately Muslim nations. That executive order and the revised order that followed were both challenged in lower courts, which ruled in favor of the states that brought suit, setting up today’s decision by the U.S. Supreme Court. Here’s what can happen Monday and some background on the executive order. What is the ban? The original ban was issued on January 27, 2017, and it did the following: - Suspended the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program for 120 days - Cut the number of refugees to 50,000 in 2017 - Banned Syrian refugees from entry into the United States indefinitely - Barred immigrants from seven predominantly Muslim countries -- Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen -- from entering the United States for 90 days. >> Read more trending news How was it revised? The revised order, executive order 13780, removed Iraq from the list of nations included in the ban, allowed refugees already approved by the State Department to enter the U.S. and lifted the ban on Syrian refugees. It was to go into effect at midnight on March 16, 2017. What will happen on Monday? The court will do one of three things Monday. It will either uphold Trump’s ban, refuse to hear the case or say it will hear the case in the fall when the court reconvenes. What happens if the Supreme Court rules in Trump’s favor? If the court rules in favor of the administration, the ban can be implemented within 72 hours. What happens if the justices refuse to hear the case? If the justices refuse to review the case, the lower court rulings will stand, stopping the Trump administration from banning entry into the U.S. based on the country from which a person emigrates. Will the Supreme Court hear arguments? Justices could choose to hear arguments about the ban in the fall. In the meantime, the lower court orders would stand. What is the background? President Trump signed an executive order that would ban refugees and immigrants from seven mostly Muslim countries from entering the United States for 90 days and would suspend a refugee program for 120 days. It would also ban Syrian refugees from entering the country. That order sparked protests around the country and around the world. The states of Washington, Oregon, Minnesota, New York, Massachusetts and Hawaii filed suits over the ban. In three days, from January 28 to January 31, 50 cases were filed against the order. The courts granted a nationwide temporary restraining order that suspended much of the order. The 9th District Court of Appeals upheld the restraining orders. A revised order was issued in March. That order, like the first, ran into legal challenges. A judge in Hawaii suspended the revised order, ruling that if the ban went into effect, it would likely cause 'irreparable injury' by violating protections granted by the First Amendment against religious discrimination. The judge said tweets by Trump suggested that the order sought to ban people on the basis of their religion, and not in the interest of national security, as Trump had claimed.       
  • A 2-year-old child who was critically injured after being backed over by his mom’s vehicle around Midnight, has died.   According to JSO, Christopher Jackson Jr.’s mom was visiting a relative at the Mathews Crossing Apartments on Century 21 Drive near Atlantic Blvd.  The mother asked a relative to watch the boy so that she could go to the store.  He was able to leave the apartment without the relative’s knowledge, and was struck by his mother as she was backing out of a parking spot.   Family members drove the boy to Memorial Hospital where he later died.   Police say the mother did not exhibit any indications of impairment.  JSO is now calling the case an accidental death.  
  • UPDATE: Palm Bay police have reported that Victoria Stites, missing since Sunday, has been found safe. She was located in Jamaica, New York. No further details were immediately released. ORIGINAL STORY: Police are asking for the public’s help in finding a Florida teen who is missing and considered to be in danger. >> Watch the news report here Victoria Stites, of Palm Bay, is 19, but her mental capacity is lower than her age, Palm Bay police say. She is possibly traveling to Jamaica, New York, with a man she met on Facebook. >> Read more trending news She was last seen Saturday leaving her Palm Bay home, north of Vero Beach, wearing a green shirt and black jeans, and carrying a purple duffel bag.  She has blonde/brown hair and brown eyes. She is about 5-foot-7 and weighs 135 to 140 pounds.  Anyone with information on her whereabouts is asked to call 1-800-423-TIPS. 
  • After a reported bank robbery in Mandarin, the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office is now tying the same suspect to at least three other crimes.   Between May 18, 2017, and June 16, 2017, JSO says there are four bank robberies in the Jacksonville-area that appear to be related:  06/16/2017 – BB&T Bank located at 11331 San Jose Boulevard  06/07/2017 – Bank of America located at 13170 Atlantic Boulevard  05/25/2017 – First Florida Credit Union located at 4530 St Johns Avenue  05/18/2017 – Atlantic Coast Federal Bank located at 8048 Normandy Boulevard   In each robbery, police say the suspect enters the bank wearing a hat and sunglasses and then approaches the teller, pulls out a black semi-automatic handgun, and demands money. Once the suspect receives the money, he flees the area on foot.   If you have any information about where this suspect is, or even who he is, you're urged to contact the Sheriff's Office at (904) 630-0500. 

The Latest News Videos