For many young women, the years just following college are all about finding yourself. Whether it’s searching for the perfect job, the perfect home or the perfect person to share your life with, the postgraduate years boil down to the search for who you are and what makes you happy. For Asha Mevlana, the road to self discovery was shortened by one, life-altering factor—her battle with cancer.
Diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 24, Asha is part of the growing population of young women with cancer-fighting and surviving America’s stealthiest killer. Though cancers prevalent in women (breast, ovarian and cervical cancers) are typically thought to only affect the middle-aged and elderly, young survivors like Asha prove that female cancers are a threat to women of all ages—including the young, the healthy and those without a strong family history of cancer.
In fact, despite a much lower chance of having a tumor, young women may be more at risk than their older counterparts because doctors and young patients rarely expect symptoms to be a sign of cancer. When women under 35 are diagnosed, their cancer is usually at a more advanced stage than older women, making their treatments more invasive and lowering the chance of survival. The silver lining is that with education and early detection, breast and gynecological cancers can be treated early on, in some cases before cells become cancerous. Here’s a breakdown of what you can do to prevent three of the most common cancers among young women.
If you feel or see something outside of the ordinary in or around the breasts or in the lymph nodes under your arms, don’t panic, but definitely have it checked out by a doctor as soon as possible. Although four out of five breast lumps aren’t cancerous, breast cancer can and does strike young women.