Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in American women. It doesn’t discriminate and affects women of all races, ages and economic backgrounds. A recent study revealed that black women are less likely than white women to develop breast cancer but more likely to die from it.
According to TheLedger.com, the death rate for black women with breast cancer is 60 percent higher and averages 56.8 deaths per 100,000, while white women average 35.6. Despite the fact that both black and white women regularly get mammograms at age 40 and older, there are a few reasons why the mortality rate differs:
Black women’s breasts are denser
This means detecting cancer in mammograms is more difficult. Denser breasts are also thought to boost the risk of developing cancer.
Black women are twice as likely to develop a form of breast cancer called “triple negative”. This particular cancer grows and spreads rapidly and is not supported by hormones such as estrogen, progesterone. This means that hormonal therapy (Tamoxifen) generally used to treat of breast cancer isn’t effective in treating triple negative breast cancer.
Black Women Get Breast Cancer at Earlier Ages
The screening guidelines for black women also come into play when diagnosing breast cancer early. In April 2015, The United States Preventative Services Task Force proposed new guidelines for breast cancer screening, recommending that women start getting mammograms every two years at the age of 50 rather than receiving their first mammogram at the age of 40 and yearly thereafter.
However, black women get hit by breast cancer at a younger age than any other race. Even though mammograms are now recommended every two years when women turn 50, black women still need to get them done at age 40. If your mother had breast cancer at the age of 45, you need to get your mammogram done at age 35 – ten years earlier than your mother’s diagnosis.
What can you do?
Of course breast cancer affects all women. However, with these startling new statistics, it’s impossible to ignore the fact that black women need to be educated about the dangers of waiting to get their first mammogram. Keep in mind that when breast cancer is detected early there are more effective treatment options available. Here is how you can be proactive about your health:
Have you or someone you know been affected by breast cancer? Have you made any lifestyle changes to prevent the disease?