Chicago, IL – Planned Parenthood of Illinois is encouraging women under 40 to take control of their breast health during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. “Early detection saves lives,” said Carole Brite, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Illinois. “Women under 40 often don't think they need to be concerned about their breast health. Though women under 40 make up a small portion of the total number of women diagnosed with breast cancer every year, when cancer does occur it is often aggressive. Waiting can literally change the course of a woman's life.” Planned Parenthood doctors and nurses play a unique role in delivering health care to young women, as more than 90 percent of Planned Parenthood patients across Illinois are under the age of 40. Planned Parenthood health care professionals help young women understand the screening that's best for them as well as the factors that can reduce their breast cancer risk — including getting regular exercise and limiting alcohol intake. Clinical breast exams are the first line of defense for providers in detecting breast cancer in most young women. Last year, Planned Parenthood doctors and nurses across Illinois provided 17,000 breast exams. Like most ob/gyns and primary care physicians, if a Planned Parenthood health care provider finds an abnormality during an exam, the patient is referred to a breast specialist for further examination, which may include diagnostic tests, like an ultrasound or biopsy. Planned Parenthood of Illinois' newly established breast diagnostic grant program helps to cover the costs of these tests for patients when possible, as the tests can be costly, especially for uninsured and low-income women. In August, Planned Parenthood announced an expansion of its breast health education, outreach, and services across the country. The expansion was made possible by an outpouring of donations from the public after Susan G. Komen for the Cure stopped providing grants to Planned Parenthood because of intense pressure from political groups and then quickly reversed course earlier this year. The expanded program gives more women access to educational resources and services to help them identify potential breast health issues early. One in five women in America has turned to Planned Parenthood at some point in her life for health care. To schedule an appointment, go to www.ppil.org or call 800-230-PLAN.