Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October presents another opportunity to spread information about the disease and how it affects Black women. The disease is responsible for a high death rate in women of color, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Black women are 40 percent more likely to die from breast cancer despite doctors diagnosing the disease in African-American and white women at about the same rate, the CDC reported. Also, Black women are more often found to have triple-negative breast cancer, an aggressive type that frequently returns after treatment.
Age is also a big factor: breast cancer incidence rates were higher among African-American women younger than 60 years old but lower among those who are 60 or older.
One reason for this statistic could be that medical professionals tend to find this cancer at an earlier stage in white women. Also, Black women may have inadequate medical care, including limited access to cancer screening technology.
Doctors encourage women, especially those at high risk due to a family history or having BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes, to get out ahead of the disease. Early detection measures such as mammograms and screenings are strongly recommended. Women can visit local hospitals that offer low-cost mammograms or call their local American Cancer Society chapter for help with screenings or doctor referrals.
In addition, researchers continue to look into why some women are more susceptible to triple-negative breast cancer, in order to find better treatment options.
Women can also choose a healthier lifestyle for a better chance of lowering risks for the disease. BreastCancer.org recommends exercise, a nutritious diet and avoiding smoking and alcohol as important in the battle against breast cancer — one that many women can win regardless of race.
Many women are speaking out to spread awareness about breast cancer and helping women to fight it. Serena Williams posted a powerful message about the disease recently.