While only about 5 percent of all cases of breast cancer occur in women under the age of 40, according to Medicine Net, some young women are at a greater risk of developing the disease because of genetics. Even though cancer may seem unlikely, a young woman who notices any of the usual signs of breast cancer should see her doctor right away.
Lump in the Breast
One common sign of breast cancer in young women is a lump or bump in the breast. The lump will feel different from the rest of the breast tissue and is usually found when a woman is performing breast self exam or undergoing one at a doctor’s office. To pick up on new and suspicious lumps, it’s important that a young woman be familiar with how her breast tissue usually feels, which is why self exams are so important. A lump of concern will feel thicker than usual. It may feel like a marble just under the skin. In some cases, the lump may be a benign cyst. It’s still important to get it checked out by a professional in case it is cancer.
Changes in the Nipple
Changes to a young woman’s nipple, on either breast, can be a sign of cancer. The nipple can begin to point inward in some cases. There may also be a bloody discharge, though according to a 2007 study, “Nipple Discharge: A Sign of Breast Cancer?” the discharge usually needs to be accompanied by another symptoms, such as a lump, in order to be caused by cancer. Some young women may also experience flaking skin by the nipple, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Other common signs of breast cancer in young women are changes to the skin on the breast. The skin may become scaly or dimpled. In some cases, the skin may turn a deep red or pink in color, have a speckled look and feel much like the rind of an orange, known as peau d’orange. Such changes in the skin are usually a sign of inflammatory breast cancer, a very rare but fast-moving form of cancer. Both younger and older women can get inflammatory breast cancer, and it may be more likely to occur in younger women, according to Young Survival Coalition.