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Breast cancer can affect all ages

Published: Oct. 14, 2020 at 9:34 PM EDT
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PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (WTAP) - Jessica Ross discovered a mass on herself when she was a senior in high school. It was a while later when doctors looked at it that they diagnosed her with breast cancer at the age of 18.

“They thought, ‘this is a benign tumor. You’re so young, there’s no way it’s going to be cancer.’ And it wasn’t until they opened me up and did a biopsy that they realized this has grown so much," says breast cancer survivor, Jessica Ross. "And, sure enough, in a short amount of time. This is definitely cancer.”

It was a moment that left both Jessica and the doctors in shock. So much so that the doctors sent the tumor to the Mayo Clinic because they couldn’t believe that someone of her age could develop breast cancer.

It’s more common for women ages 40 and above with those 39 and younger having a roughly five percent chance of being diagnosed. For women in their teens, it’s one in one million.

It’s even more startling given that Ross’s family doesn’t carry the breast cancer gene.

Her going through all of this was something that she says was “a lot to take in for a teenager.” From the six weeks of radiation therapy to having surgery to remove the tumor. It’s something that the specialists that worked with her said was the right decision.

A little over a decade ago, Jessica has taken her experience and used it to teach those in their teens to get check-ups and exams. She’s doing all of this with the help of the American Cancer Society.

“And since my diagnosis there have been 13-year-olds, 14-year-olds and probably even younger now," says Jessica Ross. "So, it’s amazing that we kind of have this mentality that this is a disease that only older people get. But it doesn’t discriminate. So, it goes for any age.”

Jessica is now 22 years cancer free.

The American Cancer Society says that those ages 25 to 39 should get a clinical breast exam every one to three years. Those 40 and older must go in at least once every year and receive a mammogram every one to two years.

Copyright 2020 WTAP. All rights reserved.

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