Contributed by: Rachna Arya


Breast cancer is the most common breast abnormality and a leading cause of death. Most people often associate this disease with adults, especially women. However, the truth is, although breast cancer in children is relatively rare and uncommon, it is not impossible.

The good news is that, most paediatric and adolescent breast masses are benign tumors called fibroadenomas. They are most commonly associated with breast development and not dangerous. However, they still need to be monitored because, on rare occasions they can grow and become cancerous. In such cases, surgical intervention may be required to remove the tumour.

In this post, we will look at some of the symptoms of breast cancer in children.

Warning Signs and Symptoms of Breast Cancer in Children

Paediatric breast cancer may cause any of the below signs. It is important to get your child examined by a medical professional as soon as possible if your child has any of the following signs and symptoms:

  • A lump or thickening in or near the breast area or in the underarm area
  • Dimples in the breast that resemble the skin of an orange
  • Unexplained changes in the size or shape of the breast
  • A dimple or puckering in breast skin
  • A nipple pulled inward in the breast
  • Blood or other fluid discharge coming from the nipple
  • Scaly, red, or swollen skin on the breast, nipple, or areola (the dark skin area around the nipple).

Risk factors for breast malignancies in children

  • A family history of breast malignancies
  • Previous breast disease
  • History of breast masses
  • Earlier radiation treatment to the neck and chest areas

Breast Cancer Diagnosis in Children

Management of breast cancer in children is different from that in adults. Paediatric breast lesions need to be managed conservatively. This is because interventional treatment may affect developing breast buds in children and adolescents.

Some of the tests to diagnose breast cancer may include the following:

  • Physical examination and medical history
  • MRI
  • Ultrasound
  • PET scan
  • Blood evaluation
  • X-ray of the chest
  • Biopsy
  • Mammogram (x-ray of the breast).

Final thoughts

Breast cancer in children is extraordinarily rare. The overwhelming majority of breast masses in children are self-limited. When tumors that develop in the breast tissue of children are normally benign tumors called fibroadenomas. A child with fibroadenomas may need regular monitoring of symptoms, but won’t need any treatments.

Occasionally, children will have malignant breast tumors. In this case, surgical management is needed.

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