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Breast Cancer in Young Women

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What's the Best Way for Younger Women to Screen for Breast Cancer?

The American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends that all women know how their breasts look and feel, and report any changes to their doctor. The ACS says breast self-exams are optional for women starting in their 20s. Talk with your doctor about the pros and cons of breast self-exam.

Regular breast exams done at least every 3 years by your doctor are recommended for women beginning at age 20. The ACS recommends annual mammograms starting at age 40. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), on the other hand, doesn’t recommend mammograms for women in their 40s. For women between the ages of 50 and 74, USPSTF experts say, women should have mammograms every 2 years and none after age 74.

Talk to your doctor about when you should begin to have mammograms. For younger women, digital mammography may be an alternate to a standard mammogram. Digital mammography is better able to see abnormalities in dense breast tissue.

How Is Breast Cancer Treated In Younger Women?

Treatment decisions are made based whether or not it has spread beyond the breast, as well as the woman's general health and personal circumstances.

Treatment options include:

Surgery: either a lumpectomy, which involves removing the tumor and some surrounding tissue, or a mastectomy, which is the removal of a breast.

Radiation is generally used following a lumpectomy, and chemotherapyand hormone therapy often are recommended after surgery to help destroy any remaining cancer cells and prevent a return.

Breast cancer treatment can affect your sexuality, fertility, and pregnancy. If you’d like to have children, talk to your doctor it before you begin treatment.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Sujana Movva, MD on June 28, 2015
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