RICHARDSON (CBSDFW.COM) – Deanna Goodman of Richardson discovered a lump in her breast at home, while doing a self-examination. That lump tripled in size in less than six weeks. Goodman thought that it couldn’t be cancer, because she was only 28 years old. “Any woman that pays attention to their body knows their body, and I knew something wasn’t right,” Goodman said.

A study released on Tuesday in The Journal of the American Medical Association includes the results of research conducted at Seattle Children’s Hospital and the University of Washington, Seattle. After analyzing data collected for nearly 40 years, they found a small, but steady, increase in the number of young women diagnosed with advanced breast cancer.

“They’re seeing a trend that women under the age of 40, once they’re diagnosed with breast cancer, their cancer has already spread to other parts of the body,” said Dr. Archana Ganaraj, a breast cancer surgeon at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas.

Dr. Ganaraj said that doctors have long known that younger women diagnosed with breast cancer often have an aggressive form of the disease. But breast cancer that has spread to other parts of the body is new information in the study.

According to doctors, it is much more difficult to successfully treat breast cancer once it has spread. Dr. Ganaraj said, “It means their survival rate is much lower because these are patients who have Stage 4 breast cancer.”

Goodman was diagnosed with an aggressive form of the disease in the spring of last year. Since then, she has been treated with chemotherapy, radiation and a double mastectomy. Doctors said that she is now cancer-free. “I have an amazing support system,” said Goodman. “My husband and my children are everything to me. If it wasn’t for them, I don’t think I would have been able to make it through.”

In light of this study, Dr. Ganaraj said, any woman who feels a lump in her breast should see a doctor. Mammograms do not always detect cancer in young women, because they tend to have dense breast tissue. Dr. Ganaraj said that an ultrasound examination may be prescribed instead.

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