Breast cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the breast. Breast cancer may form in both male and female children.
Most breast tumors in children are fibroadenomas, which are benign (not cancer). Rarely, these tumors become large phyllodes tumors (cancer) and begin to grow quickly. If a benign tumor begins to grow quickly, a fine-needle aspiration (FNA) biopsy or an excisional biopsy will be done. The tissues removed during the biopsy will be viewed under a microscope by a pathologist to check for signs of cancer.
Risk Factors, Symptoms, and Diagnostic and Staging Tests
The risk of breast cancer is increased by the following:
- Having a personal history of cancer that may spread to the breast, such as leukemia, rhabdomyosarcoma, soft tissue sarcoma, or lymphoma.
- Past treatment for another cancer, such as Hodgkin lymphoma, with radiation therapy to the breast or chest.
Breast cancer may cause any of the following signs and symptoms. Check with your doctor if any of the following problems occur:
- A lump or thickening in or near the breast or in the underarm area.
- A change in the size or shape of the breast.
- A dimple or puckering in the skin of the breast.
- A nipple turned inward into the breast.
- Scaly, red, or swollen skin on the breast, nipple, or areola (the dark area of skin that is around the nipple).
- Dimples in the breast that look like the skin of an orange, called peau d'orange.
Other conditions that are not breast cancer may cause these same symptoms.
Tests that examine the breast are used to diagnose and stage breast cancer. They may include:
See the General Information section for a description of these tests and procedures.
Another test used to diagnose breast cancer is the mammogram (an x-ray of the breast). When treatment for another cancer included radiation therapy to the breast or chest, it is important to have a mammogram to check for breast cancer beginning at age 25, or 10 years after finishing radiation therapy, whichever is later.
Treatment of breast cancer in children may include the following:
- Watchful waiting, for benign tumors.
- Surgery to remove malignant tumors, with or without radiation therapy.
See the PDQ summary on adult Breast Cancer Treatment for more information.
Bronchialtumors begin in the cells that line the surface of the lung. Most bronchial tumors in children are benign, slow-growing tumors in the trachea or large bronchi, which are the large airways of the lung. Sometimes, a slow-growing bronchial tumor becomes cancer that may spread to other parts of the body.