Breast cancer awareness among young women

by | Oct 24, 2022 | News

Despite common perceptions, breast cancer is not just a disease in older women. Even those who consider themselves in the prime of their youth need to know the principal risk factors. October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and the perfect time to learn more about this disease. 

In 1985, the pink-October-movement emerged from a partnership between the American Cancer Society and the pharmaceutical division of Imperial Chemical Industries. Betty Ford, then wife of former USA President Gerald Ford and a breast cancer survivor, helped kick off the week-long event by drawing even more attention to the cause. 

Since then, the main objective has been to make women aware of the importance of early exams. According to the official website of the Government of Canada, breast cancer is the most common cancer in Canada among women; they also report that one in eight women will be diagnosed with the disease in their lifetime. Some risk factors include:

  • Aging
  • Reproductive status (e.g. late menopause)
  • Overweight or obese (after menopause)

Many young people may think the above factors don’t apply, but physical inactivity, cases in the family (mainly mother and sister) and alcohol abuse can also heighten the risk of developing cancer. 

Furthermore, breast cancer in young women can be aggressive and more challenging to diagnose. Breast tissue is usually denser than in older women, making it difficult to identify lumps when they exist. 

Many young women with breast cancer ignore the warning signs, such as a lump in the breast, because they believe they are too young to have the disease. On the other hand, some inexperienced health professionals may consider the lump harmless and adopt expectant management, sometimes referred to as “wait and see.”

Although there is still no proven preventive measure to prevent breast cancer, early detection and prompt treatment can significantly improve the chances of survival for women diagnosed with this disease. 

According to an infographic on the Canadian government’s website, “the probability of surviving breast cancer at least five years after diagnosis is about 88% in our country.”

Canadian doctors suggest women aged 50-74 get examinations by their doctor every 2-3 years, but young women can still be cautious by being aware of the warning signs and doing self-exams.

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