Planned Parenthood Urges Women Under 40 to Take Control of Their Health During National Breast Cancer Awarenes

ALBANY, NY (09/29/2012)(readMedia)-- Upper Hudson Planned Parenthood (UHPP) is encouraging women under 40 in the capital region to take control of their breast health during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

"Early detection saves lives," said Christine Pluviose, UHPP Vice President for Patient Services. "Women under 40 too often aren't aware of their own breast health, dismiss a lump as something that doesn't need attention, or are paralyzed by fear. Waiting can change the course of a woman's life, and that's why Planned Parenthood is urging women to see their health care professional if they notice a change in their breasts."

Planned Parenthood doctors and nurses play a unique role in delivering health care to young women, as 94 percent of Planned Parenthood patients across the country are under the age of 40. Planned Parenthood health care professionals help young women understand the screening that's best for them as well as the factors that can reduce their breast cancer risk - including getting regular exercise and limiting alcohol intake.

One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. Though women under 40 make up a small portion of the total number of women diagnosed with breast cancer every year, when cancer does occur it is often aggressive.

Clinical breast exams are the first line of defense for providers in detecting breast cancer in most young women. UHPP provides every patient who comes for an initial or annual exam with a clinical breast exam. We also provide instruction in self breast examination. Like most ob/gyns and primary care physicians, if a UHPP health care provider finds an abnormality during an exam, the patient is referred to a breast specialist for further examination, which may include diagnostic tests, like an ultrasound or biopsy. If clients are uninsured or underinsured, we are able to link them directly with the regional Cancer Services Program; a program that helps women secure funding to cover the more expensive diagnostic and treatment services.

In August, Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) announced an expansion of its breast health education, outreach, and services across the country. The expansion was made possible by an outpouring of donations from the public after Susan G. Komen for the Cure stopped providing grants to Planned Parenthood because of intense pressure from political groups and then quickly reversed course earlier this year. The expanded program gives more women access to educational resources and services to help them identify potential breast health issues early. One example of this expansion is a special grant provided by PPFA to the Planned Parenthood affiliates of New York State. The grant will support the creation and initial placement costs for a statewide campaign promoting breast cancer prevention and screening available at local health centers.

The national campaign will also provide funds for specific outreach to communities of color and Hispanic Americans, populations that tend not to get screened for common cancers, such as breast cancer, as regularly as non-Hispanic whites. Both Black and Hispanic women are significantly more likely to die from breast cancer compared to non-Hispanic white women when diagnosed at a similar age and stage.

While Caucasian women are slightly more likely to develop breast cancer overall, African American women are more likely to die from breast cancer. Among women under 45, breast cancer is now more common in African-American women than white women. And breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among Latinas.

"Improving health outcomes starts with educating women and their families about the risk of ignoring potential problems," said Dr. Pluviose. "Women of color are sometimes reluctant to seek care due to a history of poor treatment, language barriers, or lack of insurance. Planned Parenthood staff and volunteers are speaking with women in their communities about the importance of screening and connecting women to health care services, helping them take control of their health. Our staff has an exceptionally high standard of customer service and welcomes all those who come seeking care, regardless of insurance status. We work constantly to reduce barriers and to provide culturally competent care. "

One in five women in America has turned to Planned Parenthood at some point in her life for health care. To schedule an appointment, go to