According to the CDC, about 11% of all new diagnoses of breast cancer are in women under 45. SurviveMISS is an organization, funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which focuses on the unique needs of this 11%. Receiving a breast cancer diagnosis would rock anyone’s world, but receiving that diagnosis at a younger age can be even more devastating, confusing, and hard to process.
Women who are diagnosed with breast cancer from ages 18 through 45 are at different stages in their life than women who are diagnosed later in life. Many of you may still be in school or trying to build a career; you may be dating, getting married or are recently married; and many of you want children one day or already have young kids. Basically, you have a different set of priorities than older breast cancer patients.
These concerns can make it harder to relate to other women in support groups, and it may be harder for your friends and family to relate to, or process, your diagnosis since it’s more unexpected at a younger age. SurviveMISS is here to help you and those around you work through this unexpected journey, with all kinds of information. This can range from fertility information from experts, as well as local and national resources to help you do that; genetic testing information, which might help determine your treatment and how to tell young children you have cancer to financial and employment help, and ways to connect with other women your age who have been there and back.
Although the current standard is for women to begin screening at 45, or 40 if they choose, if you have a family history of breast cancer, your doctor may recommend earlier screenings or different tests to monitor your breast cancer risk. Since most women don’t receive screenings until later in life, it is extremely important to make sure you perform your monthly self-checks to know what’s normal and what’s not, so you can catch any strange findings early and get them checked out by a doctor. Many young women diagnosed at a young age found their cancer through a self-check. It is also important to make sure your doctors are aware that you have any history of cancers in your family, even if it’s not necessarily breast cancer. Never be afraid to advocate for yourself!