WASHINGTON, D.C. — March 23, 2009 — The Susan G. Komen for the Cure® Advocacy Alliance commended Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), Sue Myrick (R-NC), Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Donna Christensen (D-VT) and Melissa Bean (D-IL) for their efforts to inspire young women to take control of their breast health with the introduction today of the “Breast Cancer Education and Awareness Requires Learning Young Act of 2009.” The EARLY Act will initiate an aggressive public education campaign about breast cancer and women under age 40 – with an emphasis on women at higher risk due to their race, ethnicity or genetic heritage.
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz discusses her battle with breast cancer at a news conference introducing the EARLY Act, a bill to educate young women about breast cancer.
"We know all too well the importance of educating young women about breast cancer. My sister Suzy, for whom Susan G. Komen for the Cure is named, was diagnosed with her breast cancer when she was just 33 years old. I was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 37,” said Ambassador Nancy G. Brinker, founder of Susan G. Komen for the Cure. “We know so much more now than we did then, but still, so many young women do not understand the risks, and so many providers do not understand that young women CAN get breast cancer.”
EARLY Act to help young women and health care professionals
In addition to educating young women, the bill will also help health care professionals be more aware of the risk factors, the opportunities for genetic counseling and testing, and the unique challenges that face young women diagnosed with breast cancer.
While breast cancer is less common among women under age 40 than for other age groups, this year alone, 11,000 young women under age 40 will be diagnosed with breast cancer. Of these, about 1,000 will be between age 20 and age 30. Today, more than 250,000 women under age 40 are living with breast cancer; many of them found out they had cancer while they were in their 20s.
Komen has a long history of working with and providing a wealth of educational material for younger women who are affected by breast cancer. For example, Komen On the Go™, a mobile community education and outreach tour made possible by the Val Skinner Foundation, visited 55 college and university campuses last year alone to educate young women about breast cancer. Komen strongly encourages every woman to:
- Know your risk — Learn about your family health history and talk to your health care provider about your own personal risk.
- Get screened — Ask your doctor which screening tests are right for you if you are at a higher risk. Have a mammogram every year starting at age 40 if you are at average risk. Have a clinical breast exam at least every 3 years starting at age 20, and every year starting at age 40.
- Know what is normal for you — Know how your breasts look and feel and report any changes to your health care provider right away.
- Make healthy lifestyle choices that may reduce your risk of breast cancer.
The Susan G. Komen for the Cure® Advocacy Alliance (KAA) is the nonpartisan voice for over 2.5 million breast cancer survivors and the people who love them. Our mission is to translate the Susan G. Komen for the Cure® promise to end breast cancer forever into action at all levels of government to discover and deliver the cures.