In this health video you will learn about young women and breast cancer.
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Lyle Hurd: We’re visiting with Dr. Sherrill Sellman, author of What Women Must Know to Protect their Daughters from Breast Cancer and what I would like to ask you Dr. Sellman is could you give us a little bit of an overview of what this book is all about please? Dr. Sherrill Sellman: I’d be delighted. This book is really a follow-up from the research that was expressed in Hormone Heresy. The reason I wrote this book was because as I was traveling around the world, I started to meet more and more women who were diagnosed with breast cancer were at the very young age of 20-something or 30-something. Rarely, but even then, even teenagers. This is a shock to me because breast cancer was a disease at one point that only visited women in their 60s and 70s—older women were diagnosed with breast cancer. In the last generation, we’ve accepted breast cancer to be found in women in their 40s and 50s. But now, we are finding more and more younger women. So not only is the incidents of breast cancer increasing in number, but it’s also showing up in younger women. This was a particular concern to me because the younger woman, when she is diagnosed with breast cancer, the greater the tendency she will have a more aggressive form of cancer, and therefore worse prognosis. This is devastating to young women. It was never, ever imagined that a young woman would be dealing with this horrible disease. It’s enough that older women have it, but to see these young women— I became aware of the fact that this was going on. No one was really talking about it at the time. But presently, we now know that 1 out of every 250 some women are being diagnosed with breast cancer who are under the age of 40. They are in their 30s and 20s. In fact, as I traveled, I me many doctors and oncologists and a range of health practitioners and professionals, and I was always asked the question, are you seeing young women in your practice who are being diagnosed with breast cancer. They all told me with this shock and horror on their face that they were in fact seeing these young women. So if breast cancer’s occurring in this population and I’m afraid we are just on the beginning of a huge wave that we’re going to be seeing more and more young women being diagnosed. We need to raise the alarm—not only about that this is in fact occurring—but the question that I really was asking myself and wanting to investigate was, if these women are being diagnosed with breast cancer in their 20s and their 30s—and we know that breast cancer takes 15, 20 even 30 years to develop—then we have to go back in time to address some of the root cause issues that are driving this trend. If we can address and look at some of these issues, we can also make some changes that hopefully can avert this course for many, many, many women. It’s the information that mothers need to have, that grandmothers need to have, as well as helping to educate the younger women themselves to make more informed choices because there are things we can do to avert breast cancer. It is not an evitablity that just strikes us willy-nilly; contrary to statements made by the American Cancer Society and National Cancer Institute, which says breast cancer is simply not a preventable disease. I really disagree with this statement strongly because we know there is much we can do to avert a condition like cancer, particularly the breast, and that we need to start making these changes right now. Lyle Hurd: Dr. Sellman, you say women in their 20s and 30s. How would anyone understand a woman who is 20 has breast cancer—you don’t do mammograms in girls who are 20 years old? Is it normally pretty well progressed by the time it’s discovered in a young woman? Dr. Sherrill Sellman: I actually interviewed five women—actually interviewed four women, one was in Australia, others in the United States. 1 had already died, who was from New Zealand, because her story was very compelling. These women were in their 20s and 30s. All of them had g