MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - More younger women are being diagnosed with advanced breast cancer. A new study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association points out this is an upward trend that isn't going away.
The study didn't identify exactly why there's been an increase but doctors believe diet, stress, alcohol, and not visiting your doctor regularly all increase your risk of getting breast cancer.
"It is alarming,” said breast cancer survivor and a nutritionist for the Church Health Center Sharon Moore.
The study shows every year between 1979 and 2009, the number of young women under 40 diagnosed with advanced breast cancer grew more than 2 percent.
"I am not surprised,” said Baptist Women’s Hospital radiologist Dr. Martha Elizabeth Glenn.
Dr. Glenn says this is the first big study to show an increase in breast cancer in younger women, but cautions women not to rush to get mammograms.
"Young women have young developing breast tissue and that tissue is more sensitive to any radiation effect than older breast tissue and it's much harder to analyze when it's young breast tissue,” said Dr. Glenn.
She urges women to do self breast exams.
"Once a month at the end of menstruation, there are a few days where the breast tissue is not very active and that's the best time to do breast self exams,” she said.
Sharon Moore was doing that at an early age. Breast cancer runs in her family. She hopes others won't have to go through the same battle she did. Luckily, she survived. She’s been cancer free for 12 years.
"Thank goodness it's all over,” said Moore. “Overall I would encourage women to live a healthy lifestyle."
Dr. Glenn says if you do find a lump in your breast get it checked by a doctor. Baptist Hospital does offer free mammograms for people who qualify. Baptist also offers mobile mammography once a month. If you would like to find out if you qualify for a free mammogram or would like to more information about the mobile mammography, call Baptist at 901-226-0830.