IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG) - University of Iowa researchers have found that breast cancer is becoming a serious issue with younger women. Researchers found women who developed breast cancer in their 20s had the lowest ten year survival rate.
The Iowa State Hygenic Laboratory on the University of Iowa's Oakdale Campus in Coralville on Friday, October 25, 2019 (Jackie Kennon/KCRG).
Brooke McKinnon has always led an active life. She's currently the athletic trainer for the University of Iowa's women's rowing team, a job she’s wanted to do since she was in high school.
When she was just 27, though, everything changed.
McKinnon was at an annual doctor's appointment last December when her physician felt a lump. It turned out to be breast cancer.
“I went through a lumpectomy, four rounds of chemotherapy, and 20 rounds of radiation,” she said.
Her mother received the same diagnosis two years prior. Doctors say the cancer is not genetic.
For McKinnon, at age 27, things were more difficult.
“I am now 28 years old, and I am in menopause, medically induced menopause,” McKinnon said.
She had to postpone her wedding and come to terms with harsh new realities.
“Having kids is very important to me, infertility after a cancer diagnosis is a very real possibility,” McKinnon explained.
A new study on women with stage one through three breast cancer found that the survival rate is the lowest for women in their 20s.
“One in four women, diagnosed with breast cancer in their 20s, will not survive ten years following their diagnosis,” said Dr. Paul Romitti, the study’s lead author.
The study also revealed women in their 20s are becoming diagnosed more often.
“Although the incidence is still rather infrequent for women in their 20s, what we did find was that it was increasing at a higher rate than for women in their 30s and 40s, it's increasing at about two percent each year from 2000 through 2015,” Romitti said.
McKinnon beat cancer. She learned something through the hair loss, dozens of appointments, and side effects of radiation.
“I was so stressed about the minor details of the wedding, minor details of life, but after going through this diagnosis, I realize that there's more to life than these little stressors,” said McKinnon.