Women are told to get a mammogram starting at the age of 40 to help catch breast cancer early, but for some the diagnosis comes much earlier. Studies show a rise in deadly breast cancer in younger women.
"They always say when you get that diagnosis you can remember the exact moment and that I did, I was watching my son play in a golf tournament, and it was hole six, and I just hit my knees and thought I'm so young," said Tammy Pleimann.
Pleimann was young, she was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 36.
She didn't have family history, but got a base line screening as part of a volunteer program.
"At first I was devastated, because of course you hear that word cancer," said Pleimann.
Pleimann wasn't alone in the early diagnosis. A new study published in the Journal of American Medical Association said the number of young women diagnosed with breast cancer is rising, and has been since the 1970s.
"There are woman being diagnosed with disease that needs chemotherapy, or additional treatments, because it's often a more aggressive nature," said Doctor Olivia Aranha with Saint Francis Medical Center.
But Aranha said there needs to be more research to find out why younger women are seeing the rise. She says the study doesn't address the cause.
Often times, by the time doctors find breast cancer in younger women Aranha said it tends to be a more advanced stage.
"It's considered a disease of older women, and so when a young woman feels a lump she doesn't pay much attention to it," said Aranha.
Aranha said the diagnosis to a woman under 40 can mean something much different than to someone over the age of 40.
"Yes they have a lot of anxiety because they haven't even started their life and they have their future ahead of them," said Aranha.
Pleimann wants other young women to be aware of the cancer possibility.
"You think it can't happen to you, but you know it can very well happen to you," said Pleimann.
Aranha said young women shouldn't panic. She said there still needs to be more research before women under 40 would need to get routine mammograms.
If you notice a lump or have family history, Aranha encourages you to talk to your doctor.
Pleimann is now cancer free and is actually thankful for her cancer journey.
"I look at it as no other thing than a blessing to be able to help other people and share my story," said Pleimann.
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