Only Women Over 40 Get Breast Cancer? That’s a Myth!

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When it comes to breast cancer, “young” usually means anyone younger than age 40. Breast cancer is less common among women in this age group, but it can and does happen. In the United States, about five percent of all breast cancer cases occur in women under age 40. While the risk of breast cancer increases with age, all women are at risk for getting breast cancer.

Age is a well established risk factor for breast cancer. The older a woman is, the more likely she is to get breast cancer. Breast cancer diagnosis rates begin to increase after age 40 and are highest in women over age 70. The median age of diagnosis of breast cancer for women in the U.S. is 61. 

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.

Delayed diagnosis in young women is a problem. Because it is rare for a young woman to get the disease, young women are often told to wait and watch a lump. That’s why it’s important to know what is normal for you. Tell your health care provider if you notice any change in your breasts, and think about getting a second opinion if you are not satisfied with his or her advice.

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Access to Breast Health and Breast Cancer Care

When we think about access to care with respect to breast cancer, the first thing that comes to mind is medical care. From detection and treatment to support and survivorship, access to medical and other types of care can vary across communities. It is important for those newly diagnosed to be introduced to the programs, services and resources they need to make informed decisions about their own care.

Access to breast health care can depend on the availability of services, including:

  • Screening (mammography, ultrasound)
  • Treatment options (chemotherapy, surgery, radiation)
  • Support groups
  • Complementary therapies
  • Nutrition resources
  • Clinical trials

Access to breast health and breast cancer care may be hindered due to an individual’s particular social, economic and geographic circumstances. Barriers to accessing care may involve:

  • Child care (availability, affordability)
  • Transportation to and from appointments and treatment
  • Lack of facilities close to home
  • Lack of knowledge of treatment options
  • Work schedules

Fortunately, many local and regional resources are available to help break down these barriers. Susan G. Komen St. Louis can connect individuals to resources to help provide access to quality breast health care.

If you need help paying for a mammogram or clinical breast exam, consider these local resources, all of whom are Komen St. Louis grant recipients.

If you have breast cancer or know someone who does, these resources may be able to provide assistance.

If you need help gaining access to quality breast health care, contact Komen St. Louis by phone (314.569.3900) or email (info@komenstlouis.org) or visit our website. We are here to help.

#Komen365: Passionate for Pink Every Day

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At Susan G. Komen St. Louis, we’re proud to be passionate for pink every day of the year.

Today we officially begin our #Komen365 campaign for breast cancer awareness and breast health action.

As the nation shines a spotlight on pink during Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October, we’ll continue to focus on our mission to save lives and end breast cancer forever. For us, it’s more than just a month. It’s more than just Race day. It’s every day, every week, all year long. 365 days. #Komen365

Join us! Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram. Visit our website. Read and follow this blog. Share our social content with your social networks. Share our story. Share your stories.

We invite you to follow #Komen365 and be part of the breast health action and breast cancer conversation today, this week, next month and throughout the year.

Thank you for your support of Komen St. Louis. Together, we will realize our vision of a world without breast cancer.

Komen St. Louis Community Partner: Missouri Baptist Breast HealthCare Center’s Reaching the Underserved Program

Community Partner

The Breast HealthCare Center at Missouri Baptist Medical Center continues to be a strong leader in its commitment to reach out to women in need.

“We are very fortunate to be able to assist women who have no insurance or those who are underinsured in St. Louis and surrounding communities,” says Theresa Taylor, Outreach Coordinator.

With Komen St. Louis funding, the Center provides increased access to breast screening services, as well as education, prevention and early detection of breast cancer by providing screening and diagnostic mammograms and ultrasounds to women ages 40-64.

Through the MBMC Breast HealthCare Center’s Reaching the Underserved program – which has been supported by a Komen St. Louis grant for 12 years – Missouri Baptist reaches out to many rural communities where women may not otherwise have access to a mammogram.

The program partners with local clinics and health departments, putting together educational events to bring in women and create a relaxed, fun day and comfortable atmosphere.

“Thanks to the Komen St. Louis grant, our digital mobile mammography van is able to travel into neighborhoods in many of the rural communities, reaching those in need,” says Theresa.

For those women whose mammograms show abnormalities, follow-up services are provided at the Breast HealthCare Center.

“What we often see is that when it comes to caring for their own health by having a mammogram, it’s typically the first thing many women do without,” says Theresa. “We are very fortunate to be able to provide this to them.”

The educational component is equally important, and the program works to share knowledge about the importance of early detection of breast cancer through screening. The program’s educational events are held in St. Louis City and St. Louis County along with 11 rural communities in the following Missouri counties: Jefferson, St. Francois, Warren, Ste. Genevieve, Perry, Lincoln, Madison, Washington, Franklin, St. Charles and Montgomery.

As a two-time breast cancer survivor with no family history of the disease, Theresa understands the importance of providing these services.

“I never imagined this would be something that would have impacted my life as it has,” she says. “I know first-hand how devastating this disease can be. In my role as the Outreach Coordinator, I find it very gratifying to be able to reach out and share my story in hopes it will convince as many women as possible to get screened or to get the help they need.”

The outreach efforts have particularly grown in the past two years. “Last year we provided over 800 women with services and we anticipate the same for this year,” Theresa says.

“I have first-hand knowledge of what our ladies are feeling when they are presented with a problem,” says Theresa. “I feel blessed and fortunate, with the help of our generous grant from Komen St. Louis, to help as many women as we can every year.”

In 2013, Komen St. Louis granted $2.2 million to 13 local breast health programs in our 17-county Missouri/Illinois service area, including Missouri Baptist Breast HealthCare Center’s Reaching the Underserved program. These grants help fund breast health and breast cancer screening, education and patient navigation services for those in our community who otherwise may not have access due to low income, lack of insurance or other barriers.