Cancer is known as a disease of the aging; 6o percent of patients are over the age of 65. But the disease often strikes children and younger adults, too, and a story in USA Today highlights the unique struggles of young women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer:
…Women younger than 40 who develop the disease face additional challenges.
They may have young children who they want to see grow into adulthood They face infertility from chemotherapy treatments. They may have high-powered jobs that do not lend themselves to sick leave. They are also more likely to have an aggressive form of cancer, which doesn’t respond to the less toxic treatments doctors offer.
“There’s no time at which breast cancer is a fun disease to have,” said Dr. George Sledge, a medical oncologist at Indiana University Simon Cancer Center, “but it can be awfuller in the youngest group of women.”
The piece also highlights how isolating the experience can be for many young women – one 31-year-old patient said none of her friends had gone through what she had - and how recurrence is a real concern. It calls to mind a recent study showing that young breast cancer patients are likely to experience post-cancer worry, in part because they “likely have fewer peers with serious illness and find cancer more stressful.”