Breast cancer has shifted from a taboo subject to one that is discussed freely in the media and in our daily lives. Young women are not immune to these messages. And the reality is that most girls have a first- or second-hand connection to someone with breast cancer -- and limited age-appropriate information on the facts of breast cancer. As a result, it's not surprising that Breastcancer.org found misinformation to be prevalent among young women in the United States, promoting unnecessary fears.
Education and outreach to young women has been a priority for Dr. Marisa Weiss, president and founder of Breastcancer.org, the leading online breast health and breast cancer resource. Spearheaded by Dr. Weiss, Breastcancer.org surveyed over 3,000 girls ages 8-18 in Philadelphia, Atlanta, Baltimore, and Los Angeles. The survey found that 31% of these young women mistook a sign of normal breast development as a symptom of breast cancer - even though breast cancer in young women is exceedingly rare. The survey also indicated that 67% of these young women had a relative or close acquaintance with breast cancer.
Dr. Weiss will be presenting some of these findings on October 10, 2009 at the American Society of Clinical Oncology Breast Cancer Symposium in San Francisco.
On October 7th, Dr. Weiss testified in the US House of Representatives before the Energy and Commerce Committee's Health Subcommittee support of the EARLY Act, sponsored by Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL). The EARLY Act addresses the need for accurate, age-appropriate information on breast cancer, as well as promoting breast healthy behaviors in an effort to reduce breast cancer risk - all activities endorsed by Dr. Weiss.
"Educating young women and giving them the facts about breast cancer and ways to promote breast health is a vitally important issue that cannot be overlooked," says Dr. Weiss. "It's essential that we arm young women with the facts in order to remove these unnecessary fears, and that we give them the tools to help them reduce their risk of breast cancer. We have a moral obligation to share our knowledge with this generation...and for future generations to come."