• Magee on front lines of treating younger breast cancer patients with new approach

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    Danielle Grass is only 31 years old and has already battled cancer twice. Ten years ago, she was diagnosed with colon cancer. Now, she's fighting breast cancer. 
     
    “It felt like life was crumbling again around you," Grass said. 
     
    Doctors diagnose 25,000 women younger than age 45 with breast cancer each year, and 1 percent of them are treated at Magee-Womens Hospital. Recently, the hospital has created a special clinic for younger patients that brings doctors together from different backgrounds. 
     
    Medical providers said it’s paying off and helping patients find new ways to take control of their treatment. It also keeps the hospital on the front lines of the war on cancer, treating breast cancer in younger patients with a new approach.
     
    “Outside of their treatment as well, there will be issues in terms of fertility, genetics, psycho-social aspect and even sexuality that always comes up not only during the time of their treatment, but after their treatment," said Dr. Emilia Diego, a breast surgical oncologist.
     
    Grass said, with the premenopausal clinic, she gets to work with all of her doctors all at once.
     
    “The issue of fertility always comes into play particularly with these younger patients, if only because the kinds of treatments that they may require for their breast cancer treatments can affect their fertility,” Diego said. 
     
    Grass said that’s why chose to have some of her eggs frozen. It’s taken some of the uncertainty out of her treatments, and she credits the clinic and her family for helping her fight cancer this second time around. 
     
    "I guess you have to go back to the old adage that 'it takes a village to raise a child.’ Well it takes an army to get through cancer, and that's what I have,” Grass said. 
     
    Grass said fertility treatment to save her eggs was not covered by insurance, but Magee worked with her to make the option available. 

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