Cancer survival rates stagnant among young adults, organization warns

Cancer survival rates stagnant among young adults, organization warns

WESTBOROUGH, Mass. — Despite all kinds of advancements, a local organization says the survival rates of people among a certain age group diagnosed with cancer hasn't really improved.

But they say it doesn't have to be that way.

They're working to change a national concern from Westborough.

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When Rockland's Brenna Crowe left for pace university, she was sure it would launch the best four years of her life.

“I was just very outgoing; loved to go out with my friends,” Crowe said.

But as she headed into her junior year, she noticed a rash.

“It was red bumps on my leg and it started out as one on my leg; they gave me lotion. They said, ‘here, put this on it, it will go away,’" said Crowe.

It didn't.

The rash was followed by fatigue, back pain, strep throat and other symptoms.

No one knew what was behind it as she continued to press for an answer.

“The doctor said, ‘it's all in your head,’” Crowe explained.

It wasn't until later that she learned she had non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. But the lag time in discovering that is a problem, according to Tricia Laursen, executive director of 15-40 Connection.

She says since 1975, the cancer survival rates among 15 to 40-year-olds diagnosed have barely improved.

“A big reason is a lack of early detection or delayed diagnosis,” Laursen said.

She added many people between the ages of 15 and 40 don't think they fit the profile of a cancer patient -- neither do their doctors.

The Westoborough organization is working to change that.

Crowe has been cancer free for almost three years. She's sharing her story in the hope that other people will become their own best advocate.

“Don't ignore little changes in your health,” Crowe said. “Know what your body feels like when it’s normal and know what it’s like when it’s not normal.  And don't settle for not normal.”

She says when patients use them to become their own best advocate, it impacts all areas of health -- sometimes picking up things that aren't cancer, but need attention.

For more information on 15-40 Connection, visit them online at