By Cynthia Dizikes,
Mon, Mar 23 2009

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- In an emotionally charged press conference today, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., joined Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., in announcing legislation designed to help women under 40 years old prevent and fight breast cancer.

Wasserman Schultz, who is in her early 40s, recently announced that she underwent a double mastectomy and had both her ovaries removed last year after being diagnosed with breast cancer.

The Education and Awareness Requires Learning Young Act (EARLY Act) directs the Centers for Disease Control to develop and implement a national education campaign to increase breast cancer awareness in young women, including those of Ashkenazi Jewish and African American heritage who may have a higher risk of developing the disease early.

“While Minnesota has among the highest rates of breast cancer, it has among the lowest deaths,” said Klobuchar. “We believe health care isn’t just about taking care of people after they have fallen sick.”

Breast cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in young women under the age of 40.  Each year more than 10,000 young women are diagnosed with breast cancer, and for more than 1,000 of these women, the disease is fatal, according to Klobuchar’s office.

“Because young women diagnosed with breast and ovarian cancer face unique challenges related to their fertility and social life, the legislation provides assistance to organizations to support young women diagnosed with breast cancer and help them get the assistance they need, including social and psychological support, fertility counseling and recurrence prevention training,” Klobuchar’s office announced in a statement.