LAS VEGAS (KLAS)– One in eight women under the age of 40 will be diagnosed with breast cancer. It can be a devastating and surprising diagnosis especially since screenings are not typically recommended until the age of 40.
Self-exams are often the way cancer is discovered.
Philecia La’Bounty tearfully shared her cancer struggle with 8 News Now. At 29, a lump was initially discovered and dismissed as a cyst, eight months later, she had stage four breast cancer.
“I don’t want to be sick,” said La’bounty.
Alexandria Lightning, diagnosed at 33, says her breast cancer was a firm knot that she says was not there before.
Both women are undergoing life-saving treatment.
“Breast Cancer in women under the age of 40 is really quite rare,” said Susan Brown, senior director of health information and publications at Susan G. Koman. She says the odds of breast cancer under the age of 40 are very low at 0.04%.
“It’s about 11,000 women under the age of 40 are expected to be diagnosed with breast cancer in the U.S. this year,” said Brown.
The current guidelines for the first mammogram are at age 40, unless there is a family history of breast cancer or other risk factors, however in La’Bounty or Lightning’s case they had neither.
“Younger women typically have dense breast on mammography which makes breast cancer harder to detect,” said Brown. “So the test just isn’t as effective in younger than older women.”
Both Lightening and La’Bounty discovered their cancer through breast self-exams. It is important to be your own health advocate and insist on screenings and tests even if they are not required.
“I am here just trying to hold it together,” said La’Bounty.
The average woman’s risk of developing breast cancer during her lifetime is about 12. However, you can catch it early by getting a mammogram. Call your buddy and remind her to do her breast self-exam.