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Breast cancer and teenage girls

Learn about breast lumps, breast pain and breast cancer risk.

1. Can teenagers get breast cancer?

  1. Developing breast cancer when you’re a teenager is very rare.
  2. The majority of breast cancers are diagnosed in women over the age of 50.
  3. It can be normal to feel lumps or pain when your breasts are developing.
  4. If you’re worried about any changes to your breasts you can talk to your GP.

2. Breast lumps in teenagers

It can be normal to feel lumps when your breasts are developing. These lumps often disappear on their own.

If a lump causes you any discomfort, appears to get bigger or you’re worried about it, talk to someone such as your GP. You may also want to talk to someone in your family or a school nurse.

Although it’s very unlikely there’s anything wrong, a doctor can check it out and should put your mind at rest. You can ask to see a female doctor or the practice nurse if this will make you feel more comfortable.

Very occasionally lumps are a sign of a benign breast condition. “Benign” means harmless, and a benign condition will not become a breast cancer. The most common benign lump that happens as the breasts develop is called a fibroadenoma.

3. Painful breasts

It’s normal for breasts to feel uncomfortable and painful at times. Breast pain can be anything from a mild ache to a sharp, stabbing or burning feeling.

Breasts can be painful when they’re developing during puberty. For some people, breast pain is affected by changing hormone levels, so the pain is at its worst just before a period, settling down again afterwards. For others the pain can happen at any time.

There are practical ways and treatments to help settle breast pain, so talk to your doctor if this is a problem for you.

Sometimes a bra that doesn’t fit well can cause pain and discomfort, so it’s worth making sure your bra fits you properly.

4. Can I reduce my risk of breast cancer?

Things that can affect your risk

There are things that can increase the risk of getting breast cancer.

Some of these things you can’t change – like getting older or your genes.

But there are ways you can stay healthy and reduce your risk of breast cancer in future. These include not drinking too much alcohol, doing some regular exercise and being a healthy weight.

Things that do not affect your risk

There are many myths about the causes of breast cancer.

The following things do not increase your risk of getting breast cancer:

  • Injuring your breast
  • Using deodorants
  • Wearing an underwired bra
  • Having your nipple pierced
  • Carrying a mobile phone in your breast pocket

5. Useful organisations

You may find the following organisations useful:

  1. The Mix – free confidential help for people under 25
  2. riprap – for teenagers who have a parent with cancer
  3. Childline – website for children and young people

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Quality assurance

Last reviewed in March 2024. The next planned review begins in March 2027.

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