Risk Factors: African Americans
African American women are more likely than all other women to die from breast cancer even though Caucasian women have a higher incidence rate of breast cancer. In women under age 45, breast cancer is most common in African American women, but after age 45 it is most common in Caucasian women.
African American women also seem to be more likely to develop types of breast cancer, such as triple negative tumors, that are more difficult to treat regardless of stage. Their tumors also tend to be found at a later, more advanced, stage so there are fewer treatment options. Some reasons for this may include not being able to get healthcare or not following-up after getting abnormal test results. Other reasons may include distrust of the healthcare system, the belief that mammograms are not needed, or not having insurance.
We do not know how to prevent breast cancer, but there are things you can do to reduce your risk and find breast cancer early:
Educate yourself on the risk factors of breast cancer and make lifestyle changes, such as limiting how much alcohol you drink or becoming more physically active, if necessary.
Be familiar with what is normal for your breasts, such as changes that typically occur during your menstrual cycle. Breast self exams (BSE) are a tool you can use to do this. Remember you do not perform BSE’s to find breast cancer, but rather to notice anything that is not normal for your breasts so you can tell your medical provider about the changes.
Talk with your doctor or healthcare provider about your personal risk factors, family history and screening, including when you should get mammograms.
Most insurances pay for these screenings. If you are not insured or your insurance doesn’t cover the cost, we can help.
American Cancer Society: Breast Cancer Facts and Figures 2009-2010, especially pp. 1-2, 4, 8-9
American Cancer Society: Cancer Facts and Figures for African Americans 2009-2010, especially p. 8
Susan G. Komen for the Cure: Race & Ethnicity
(On the home page, under the"Understanding Breast Cancer” drop-down menu, select “Risk Factors and Prevention.” On the left sidebar, select “Family History/Genetic Risks,” and on the “Family History & Genetic Risks” page, select the “Race and ethnicty” link after the summary paragraph)