Reported by Linda Butler, 22-year breast cancer survivor and Founder of Pray for the Cure.
Breast cancer survival rates have improved in the United States. But African-American women still experience 42 percent higher mortality compared to their white counterparts and are more likely to be diagnosed with late-stage breast cancer.
African-American women are more often diagnosed with triple-negative or basal-like breast cancers, which are the most aggressive subtype. For example, approximately 22 percent of breast cancers in African-American women are triple negative compared to 10–12 percent in other ethnic or racial groups. These disparities are even higher among premenopausal African-American women with breast cancer.
The Center for Disease Control is asking African-American women to take action to lower breast and ovarian cancer risks. They are encouraging women to know their family history with cancer and to participate in genetic testing. African-American women under the age of 35 have breast cancer rates that are two times higher than white women of the same age.
Asking family about this health matter can be hard. The CDC suggests these five guidelines for discussion with family about cancer: (1) Share that you have learned that cancer can run in families. (2) Explain that you are creating a record of your family history of cancer. (3) Encourage family members to respond in a way that is most encouraging to them. (4) Word your questions carefully, be a good listener, and respect their privacy. (5) Write down who had cancer, age and when diagnosed, and type of cancer.
If you notice certain patterns of cancer, you can look further through genetic testing. Genetic testing helps you to learn if your family history of breast cancer is due to a specific inherited gene mutation. It’s done with a blood or saliva sample, at a doctor’s office, hospital or clinic.
Further information about breast and ovarian cancer in African-American women can be obtained at www.cdc.gov/BringYourBrave. Locally information and advisement can be obtained at the Memorial Affiliate of Susan G Komen, 900 Main Street in Peoria.