BOULDER, Colo. (CBS4) – More younger women are getting advanced breast cancer and experts want to know why.
The study released last week shows there is a small but significant increase in young women and the cancer is often more aggressive. One Boulder woman who was diagnosed at a young age found a lack of resources for young women with cancer, so she created her own.
Lesley Jacobs was 35 years old.
“In October of 2010 I was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer,” Jacobs said.
“These are young women — 25 to 39 — they’re supposed to live to age 80 on average. That’s not going to happen. That’s very concerning and troublesome,” said. Dr. Dev Paul, breast oncologist with the Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers. “We’re seeing this in the clinic. We’re seeing younger women coming in with more advanced disease Stage 4 right from the get go.”
For Jacobs the news was scary and finding the right support for someone her age was tough.
“As I started to go through chemo and radiation I lost weight and went bald and I became that pink elephant in the room,” Jacobs said.
She created a new foundation called the “Pink Elephant Posse,” a community geared towards helping young people deal with cancer and the unique challenges they face.
“People in their 20s, 30s and early 40s are often single,” Jacobs said. “They’re often young parents, a lot of them are without insurance, a lot of them are trying to deal with dating and intimacy.”
The study doesn’t have a cause for the increase in women like Jacobs and urges more funding for research.
“This study lets us know we need to spend a little more money on finding out, why is this happening?” Paul said.
Another obstacle is to find the right kind of screening — something that Jacobs says needs to happen now.
“I would love for more research to be done. Like I said, young cancer diagnosis and that community is totally underfunded,” she said.
Doctors say right now the best thing a young woman can do is a regular monthly self-breast exam.
LINK: Pink Elephant Posse