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Breast Cancer In
Young Women
Younger women
generally do not consider
themselves to be at risk
for breast cancer and less
than five percent of all
breast cancer cases occur
in women under the age
of 40. However, breast
cancer can occur at any
age, and women of every
age should be aware of
their personal risk factors
for breast cancer.
Many factors can
influence your risk for
breast cancer, and most
women who develop
breast cancer do not have
any known risk factors or
a history of the disease in
their families.
Some of the risk
factors are as follows:
• A personal history of breast lumps or
non-cancerous breast diseases with
multiple biopsies.
• A family history of breast cancer,
particularly in a mother, daughter, or
• History of radiation therapy to the
chest in young age.
• Evidence of a specific genetic
mutation (BRCA1/BRCA2); women
who carry defects on either of
these genes are at greater risk for
developing breast cancer.
• Lifestyle factors include heavy
alcohol use, obesity and high intake
of red meat.
• Dense breasts and race (Ashkenazi
• Some studies have suggested that
recent use (during the past 10 years)
of oral contraceptives (birth control
pills) results in a very slight increased
risk for developing breast cancer over
those who have never taken them.
Delay in diagnosing breast cancer
also is a problem. Many young
women who have breast cancer
ignore the warning signs -- such as
a lump or unusual nipple discharge
- because they believe they are too
young to get breast cancer and tend
to assume a lump is a harmless cyst
or other growth. Some healthcare
providers also dismiss breast lumps
in young women as cysts and adopt
a “wait and see” approach. You
must know your breasts… monthly
self-examination is very important.
You can help lower your risk of
breast cancer in the following
•Maintain healthy BMI
• Exercise regularly
• Limit alcoholic drinks to no
more than one per day
• Practice breast feeding
Although regular screening cannot
prevent breast cancer, it can help
find breast cancer early when
it is easier to treat. Talk to your
doctor about which breast cancer
screening tests are right for you,
and when you should have them.
It is important that you know your
family history and talk to your
doctor about screening and other
ways you can lower your risk.
Dr. Shailesh Matkar, Specialist General
Surgeon has special interest & expertise
in breast cancer surgery, and also leads
Pink Fern Breast Cancer Center at
International Modern Hospital, Dubai.
Dr. Shailesh Matkar
Specialist General Surgeon
Oct/Nov 2014