Members of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Advisory Committee on Breast Cancer in Young Women met last week to discuss recommendations to inform and educate populations that may be at-risk for the disease.
“The Committee has put together three major recommendations based on our charge from the Affordable Care Act,” said Dr. Ann H. Partridge, committee chair of the Committee. “The first is identify and communicate effectively with young woman at elevated risk.”
Additionally, she recommended further support of the development and implementation of strategies that engage providers in communicating with at-risk young women, as well as engaging patients and providers to address issues that are unique to young women facing breast cancer.
Especially important, she said, was focusing on young women with hereditary susceptibility, biopsy-proven hyperplasia and other conditions.
Other groups wither higher-than-average risks for breast cancer should also be targeted, Dr. Partridge continued, noting Ashkenazi Jews with either known or unknown family histories of cancer and women with mammographically dense breasts, as documented by radiologists.
“Messages should [also] include robust evidence-based recommendations for activities with known breast cancer risk reduction,” Dr. Partridge said. “These activities include encouraging young women to be familiar with their bodies, and specifically, their breasts, so that they can report abnormal conditions to their providers.”
Similarly important, she said, was the promotion of healthy lifestyle choices, including balanced diets, maintaining proper body weights, smoking cessation, exercising, and limiting alcohol consumption, as they may help lower the chances of a young woman developing cancer or other diseases.
The committee advised that messages targeting young woman not cause “undue harm or fear,” stating that messages that correlate healthy lifestyle choices to overall health and wellness may prove more effective than messages that correlate healthy lifestyle choices to a reduction in illnesses, particularly, breast cancer.
A diverse population of young woman should be represented in the messages, the committee recommends, and address the possible stigma of breast cancer in certain communities. Special considerations should also be given to national messages that already target young women, with communication strategies targeting the populations placing a greater emphasis on social media, Dr. Partridge stated.
“The workgroup did a tremendous job trying to harness already existing platforms and see where they can make small changes and increase awareness among the physicians and primary care providers,” Dr. Partridge said.
The Committee specifically recommended further expansion and dissemination of electronic educational aides, such as the University of California-Davis’s eDoctoring online tools and the CDC’s BodyTalk program.
“The committee recommends the continued support, evaluation and expansion of ongoing funding initiatives, including DP11-1111, Developing Support and Educational Awareness for Young Breast Cancer Survivors in the United States,” Dr. Partridge said, “to identify promising practices or evidence-based interventions that can be broadly disseminated to the target populations and to assess the overall effectiveness of young breast cancer survivor programs.”
“Ideally, all young women will be informed that they can and do get breast cancer, again, in a careful, non-threatening, ‘be-healthy’ kind of way,” she said. “And that we respectfully submit that that studies focus on young women in particular [and] should be given special priority given the disparate outcomes of young women diagnosed with breast cancer, particularly the women in underrepresented minority groups.”