This month, doctors are urging women to “think pink”-to think about breast cancer. Normally, doctors recommend only women over age 40 get a yearly mammogram. But the breast cancer clinic called The Rose has set up a service especially to screen younger women. CEO and Co-Founder Dorothy Gibbons says they surveyed the younger women they’ve diagnosed.
“Every single one of them had been told by their health care provider, ‘You’re too young for a mammogram.’ Well, that’s true, but they’re not too young for breast cancer. What we’ve got to have is a system that invites younger women to have their breasts checked.”
Usually, women under 40 aren’t screened because they make up only about 7% of diagnosed cases. Young women’s breast tissue is also more dense, so it can be hard to see anything with an X-Ray. But at The Rose, doctors use ultrasound and other procedures to test young women. This is Co-Founder and Medical Director Dr. Dixie Melillo in her clinic.
“I think what amazes me is you always think that they would be devastated , or you always think that they would blow it off, but I find young women to be very responsible. I think they take it seriously when we explain to them that we’re seeing more and more young women with breast cancer.”
Gibbons especially encourages young women with a family history of the disease, or who notice any changes in their breast, to get screened. The Rose uses fees from insured and paying patients to cover the uninsured. Gibbons says that early detection is key.
“You don’t want to be afraid of finding cancer. You want to be afraid of finding it late.”
In the last year, The Rose diagnosed about 40 young women with breast cancer. That’s 40 young lives that may be saved with early intervention.
From the KUHF NewsLab, I’m Melissa Galvez.
For more information about The Rose, please visit www.the-rose.org.