One in every eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime.
When breast cancer is detected early, the five-year survival rate is 98 percent. But, when breast cancer occurs in women under the age of 40, it is often detected at later stages, is more likely to be aggressive, and may be less responsive to traditional therapies.
Despite these facts, there is a lack of awareness about the risks and unique challenges facing young women with breast cancer.
A bill currently before the Senate, called the Breast Cancer Education Awareness Requires Learning Young (EARLY) Act, would address these unique challenges by providing public education targeted at young women, resources for health professionals to offer more tests, and support services for young women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer.
The EARLY Act has already been introduced in the House and has received overwhelming support with more than 360 co-sponsors. But, to ensure the EARLY Act passes the Senate and makes it to President Obama's desk, your senators need to hear from you.
Please take a moment to write your senators and urge them to co-sponsor the EARLY Act today!
If you have already agreed to co-sponsor the bill, thank you! If not, please sign on as a co-sponsor.
The EARLY Act will address the unique concerns facing young women with breast cancer by:
- Initiating an evidence-based public education campaign about breast cancer in women under age 45 - with an emphasis on women at higher risk due to their race, ethnicity or genetic heritage.
- Educating health care professionals about the risk factors, opportunities for genetic counseling and testing, and unique challenges that face young women diagnosed with breast cancer.
- Providing grants to organizations that provide credible health information directed to young women diagnosed with breast cancer.
While it is rare, young women can and do develop breast cancer. In the U.S. about 5 percent of all breast cancer occurs in women under age 40. Diagnosing breast cancer in young women can be more difficult because their breast tissue is often more dense than the breast tissue of older women. By the time a lump can be felt in a young woman, it is often large enough and advanced enough to lower her chances of survival. In addition, the cancer may be more aggressive and less responsive to hormone therapies.
There are benefits to starting evidence-based, age-appropriate breast health education early. By starting young, when women are still developing their lifelong habits, educating them about the benefits of healthy living and breast self-awareness will lead to a lifetime of empowerment. And they may be willing to adopt healthy lifestyles including exercise and nutrition.
When breast cancer is detected early, the five-year survival rate is 98 percent. But because many younger women are diagnosed at later stages with more aggressive breast cancer, their survival rate is lower. With increased awareness for genetic counseling and testing, early detection, and treatment, we can improve the odds. That is why I urge you strongly to co-sponsor this critical piece of legislation.