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Checking for breast cancer is important at all ages

She said self-screening saved her life.
Breast Cancer, African-American Women
Posted at 6:11 PM, Oct 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-26 21:22:53-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — When people think of breast cancer it is usually associated with women over the age of 45. However, health officials said the younger generations should also be monitoring themselves for any signs or symptoms of the disease.

Leaders in the fight against breast cancer said that no matter what age you are you should remain vigilant when it comes to your health.

According to the CDC, although breast cancer is rare in women under 45, 9% of new breast cancer cases are from younger women.

“I was 38 and all I thought was death, you know? I equate cancer with dying,” said Karla Sandifer is a member of the young survival coalition of Bakersfield.

Sandifer said she didn't think she could get breast cancer because of her age.

“Breast cancer was someone that was old that's what you think. You don’t think it's gonna hit you. So, you know I was scared I didn't know what to do or think,” said Sandifer.

The CDC said if you are under the age of 45, you may have a higher risk for breast cancer if:

  • You have close relatives who were diagnosed with breast cancer
  • ​​you have changes in certain breast cancer genes ( brca1 and brca2)
  • You received radiation therapy to the breast or chest
  • You have been told that you have  dense breasts on a mammogram

None of these things were the case for Sandifer.

“I did the genetic testing mine was not hereditary mine was environmental,” said Sandifer.

She said self-screening saved her life.

“You have to give yourself a fighting chance so if you see anything if anything feels differently go see about it and demand a mammogram some doctors don’t want to give it to you,” said Sandifer.

Health officials agreed that there are simple ways to reduce your chances of getting breast cancer.

“Exercise regularly, keep your weight down, and also do your breast self-exams,” said

Dr. Ravi Patel, Medical Director Oncologist at Comprehensive Blood and Cancer Center.

Sandifer said for most young women first diagnosed with cancer it’s extremely tough, but the Young Survival Coalition is here for you.

Bakersfield Young survival coaliton has a facebook group for young women diagnosed with cancer and a national site to find resources.

For year-round mammogram visit the Kern County Cancer Fund website for more information.