According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths among women in the United States. However it is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among African American women. Black women are dying at an alarmingly increased rate compared to all other racial and ethnic groups. We are 40% more likely to die of breast cancer than white women. Breast cancers diagnosed in Black women are associated with poor prognosis due to a variety of factors. Besides being diagnosed with more aggressive forms of cancer, fewer social and economic resources are contributing factors also.
So, what can we do?
We can improve disparities with regular preventative follow-ups, improved access to treatment options, and high-quality care. This will lead to diagnosis at the earliest stage when the tumor is more likely to be small and localized
Early detection is KEY! Know your BREASTS!!
Discuss your family history with your healthcare provider to determine your risk
Do regular self-exams monthly at the same time each month
The best time to do a monthly self-breast exam is about 3 to 5 days after your period starts. Your breasts are not as tender or lumpy at this time in your monthly cycle.
See your provider for a clinical breast exam annually.
More black women experience follow-up times of over 60 days (20%) compared with Caucasian women (12%) after a mammogram that is not normal. Waiting longer for follow-up care may lead to cancers that spread beyond the breast and are harder to treat.
Get regular mammograms
Breast density is a risk factor for Black women developing breast cancer
Insist on digital or 3D mammography, advances in healthcare technology can be vital to detection
After cancer is found, treatment should start as soon as possible.
Only 69% of black women start treatment within 30 days (compared with 83% of white women)
Education is the first step in eliminating healthcare disparities in the African American community.
Sources: CDC, Medline Plus, Black Women’s Health Imperative