Preschool Girl Survives Juvenile Breast Cancer

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Juvenile Breast Carcinoma is a rare form of breast cancer that occurs in children and affects about 300,000 each year. But even then, the disease mostly affects older children and adolescents. Four-year-old Aleisha Hunter of Ontario, Canada is an extremely uncommon case, but today is cancer-free after a radical mastectomy.

Aleisha’s mom noticed a pea-sized lump on the left side of her daughter’s chest when she was only two years old. At first, the doctors were not sure what it was, but as the tumor grew, it became painful and Aleisha had trouble eating and sleeping.

At age three, Aleisha had a radical modified mastectomy, a removal of the entire nipple, areola, breast tissue and lymph nodes under her left arm. Surgical oncologist Nancy Down of North York General Hospital performed the surgery.

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Today, the preschooler is “a bubbly little 4-year old,” says mom Melanie. The doctors have said she is cancer-free and her prognosis. Aleisha will eventually need reconstructive surgery.

Juvenile secretory carcinoma of the breast was first described in 1966 and accounts for less than 1% of all infiltrating breast cancers. It is a slow growing tumor and does not appear to be as aggressive as some other forms of breast cancer - approximately 15% of recorded cases have axillary metastases. If it does recur, there are often intervals of many years between tumors.

Cases are most often treated with surgery and not chemotherapy or radiation unless otherwise indicated.

According to most statistics, about 1 in 8 women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. Aging is one of the biggest risk factors of developing the disease.

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