When I first heard this story I did not believe it. A ten-year-old girl with Stage II ductal breast cancer? Â It just did not make any sense!
First of all you need to have breasts to have breast cancer. This meant she either had a tumor of her breast bud or premature puberty, which in and of itself suggests that she had an unusual level of hormones.
It was only after the story had been widely reported that it became clear that little girl had a secretory cancer, which is NOT the kind of breast cancer that adult women get.
When these secretory cancers were first described in the medical literature in 1966, they were referred to as â€œjuvenile breast cancerâ€ because the only known patients were children or very young women. These cancers are incredibly rare, making up less than .15% of breast cancers, and they are typically associated with an excellent prognosis.
It is sad when any child gets cancer, and Iâ€™m sure itâ€™s been very hard on this young girl and her family. We should not, however, get carried away.Â This is a very rare tumor and the fact that it occurred in a 10-year-old girl does not mean that we need to start screening children or young women for breast cancer. It is important that young girls see their breasts as wonderful, nurturing parts of their bodies. The last thing we want to do is have them think that their breasts are body parts that are going to turn on them at a momentâ€™s notice.
Relax folksâ€”rare diseases are rare! Currently, the best-known way to prevent breast cancer is physical exercise, particularly around puberty and the teen-age years. This means what we really should be worrying about is obesity in children, and lack of physical activity. We need to turn our attention to all the girls who no longer have PE in school and who never get any exercise at all! Letâ€™s see some news stories about that!