YSC 15th Anniversary Lists - April 2013

In 2013, Young Survival Coalition celebrates 15 years of supporting women 40 and under affected by breast cancer. In the tradition of its founders, YSC pioneers research, information about treatment options and helps with the challenges and frustrations young women face when diagnosed. As the first organization to recognize these needs, YSC will be highlighting its accomplishments as well as the cancer community’s. 

Check back on the 15th of each month to see 15 new facts!

 

April
2013

15 Myths about Breast Cancer

 

Because of the prevalent misconception that young women don’t get breast cancer, often times a young woman’s breast cancer will go undiagnosed or undetected. This was the case for several young women featured in YSC’s 31Faces campaign. It’s important for every woman to know their risk factors and be their own best health advocate. In honor of April Fool’s Day we outline some of the common myths about breast cancer as well as the real "Facts" surrounding them.

   

Myth: Young women do NOT get breast cancer.

Fact: Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women ages 15 to 39.1

   

Myth: Most cases of breast cancer in young women are found by a medical professional’s examination.

Fact: Nearly 80 percent of young women diagnosed with breast cancer find their breast abnormality themselves.2

   

Myth: Young women do not die from breast cancer.

Fact: Every year, nearly 1,200 women age 40 and younger die from breast cancer.3

   

Myth: Young women have less aggressive types of breast cancer.

Fact: Young women are more likely to have aggressive subtypes of breast cancer, including triple negative and HER2+ disease,4 larger tumor sizes and higher incidence of lymph node involvement.5

   

Myth: There are only a small number of young women living with breast cancer in the United States.

Fact: Today, there are an estimated 250,000 breast cancer survivors living in the U.S. who were diagnosed at age 40 or younger.5

   

Myth: Women can’t get breast cancer when they are pregnant.

Fact: Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in women who are pregnant or have recently given birth, occurring once in every 3,000 pregnancies.6

   

Myth: Young women can’t experience menopause.

Fact: Chemotherapy and hormonal treatments can sometimes bring on premature menopause, which can significantly impact quality of life.

   

Myth: There is just as much research being done on issues surrounding young women with breast cancer as their older counterparts.

Fact: As the incidence of young women with breast cancer is much lower than in older women, young women are often an underrepresented population in research studies.

   

Myth: It is easy for a medical professional to screen a young woman for breast cancer.

Fact: There is currently no effective breast cancer screening tool for women 40 and under.

   

Myth: Breast cancer in young women is the same as breast cancer in older women.

Fact: Increasingly, research suggests that breast cancer before age 40 is biologically different from the majority of breast cancer that occurs in older women.

   

Myth: Young women with breast cancer face the same issues as their older counterparts.

Fact: Young women diagnosed with breast cancer face different issues than their older counterparts including fertility, raising young children, early onset menopause, relationships and dating, body image and career and financial challenges.

   

Myth: Breast cancer only presents itself as lumps in the breast tissue.

Fact: There are several signs and symptoms that a woman might have breast cancer:

  • Change in color or rash on the skin of the breast
  • Unusual nipple discharge
  • Swelling of all or part of the breast
  • Itchy, sore or scaling area on the nipple
  • Dimpling on breast skin or nipple turning inward
   

Myth: The timing of a women’s first menstrual period does not have an impact on her risk factors for breast cancer.

Fact: A first menstrual period beginning earlier than age 12 can increase a women’s risk of developing breast cancer. This is due to the relationship between breast cancer and the body’s exposure to hormones as well as any changes in hormonal environment.

   

Myth: There is nothing you can do to reduce your risk factors of developing breast cancer.

Fact: There are several behaviors you can change to reduce your risk factors:

  • Increase physical activity
  • Reduce alcohol consumption
  • Speak with your doctor to determine the best time to get pregnant
  • Eat heathy foods
  • Reduce stress
  • Educate yourself about your body and learn what is normal for your breast health
   

Myth: All lumps found in the breast are cancerous.

Fact: Breast tissue is naturally lumpy, in fact 80 percent of breast lumps are benign (not cancer). Understanding your breasts and knowing what is normal for you is the first step to empowering yourself in the fight against breast cancer.

 

Did You Know?

Race, ethnicity, language barriers and cultural beliefs may prevent some young women from understanding their personal risk of breast cancer. YSC provides FREE educational materials for healthcare professionals to help spread factual information about how breast cancer impacts the physical, emotional and mental health of young women.

Footnotes

1. Archie Bleyer et al., "The distinctive biology of cancer in adolescents and young adults," Nature Reviews Cancer 8 (2008).

2. Ruddy, K. et al., "Presentation of breast cancer in young women," Journal of Clinical Oncology 27:15S (2009).

3. American Cancer Society, Cancer Facts and Figures 2011–2012.

4. Carey K. Anders et al., "Breast Carcinomas Arising at a Young Age: Unique Biology or a Surrogate for Aggressive Intrinsic Subtypes?," Journal of Clinical Oncology 29:1 (2011).

5. Carey K. Anders et al., "Young Age at Diagnosis Correlates With Worse Prognosis and Defines a Subset of Breast Cancers With Shared Patterns of Gene Expression," Journal of Clinical Oncology 26:20  (2008).

6. Based on 2000 census data.