Rep. Wasserman Schultz Proposes National Breast Cancer Educational Campaign Targeting Young, Ethnic Minority Women
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) on Monday introduced legislation that would direct HHS to develop a national breast cancer educational campaign aimed at women younger than age 40 and their doctors, the Washington Post reports. The campaign will focus particularly on ethnic minorities, such as black and Jewish women, who are at higher genetic risk of the disease, according to the Post. Over the weekend, Wasserman Schultz revealed that she discovered a breast lump in December 2007 and since has undergone seven major surgeries, including an elective double mastectomy and removal of her ovaries (Leiby, Washington Post, 3/24).
She is expected to introduce the bill in the House this week as the Education and Awareness Requires Learning Young Act, with Sen. Amy Klobucher (D-Minn.) proposing similar legislation in the Senate next week. The EARLY Act would authorize up to $9 million annually from 2010 to 2014 to create a national education campaign to teach women ages 15 to 39 about the risks of breast cancer, warning signs and preventive techniques, CongressDaily reports. Wasserman Schultz, who is 42, said that although women typically begin thinking about breast cancer around age 40, an estimated 10,000 women younger than age 40 were diagnosed with the disease in 2008 (Sanders, CongressDaily, 3/24).
The bill would direct HHS to lead an educational campaign in high schools and universities. Wasserman Schultz said she elected to have her breasts and ovaries removed after learning that her Ashkenazi Jewish descent increased the risk that her cancer would spread (Washington Post, 3/24). The bill also would urge physicians to be more aggressive in their screenings of younger women (CongressDaily, 3/24). Wasserman Schultz said, "The EARLY Act will teach both young women and medical professionals alike about the risk factors, warning signs of breast cancer and predictive tools such as genetic testing that can help women make informed decisions about their health" (Washington Post, 3/24).
Wasserman Schultz discussed the bill on Monday on ABC's "Good Morning America" (Roberts, "Good Morning American," ABC, 3/23).