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Breast Cancer Resource
Risk Factors: African Americans

Risk Factors: African Americans

Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among black women.

Breast cancer is the second most common cause of death among black women, surpassed only by lung cancer.


More advanced stage at diagnosis among black women largely attributed to issues related to access to high-quality healthcare, including fewer screening mammograms, lack of timely follow-up of abnormal results, and receipt of health care at lower resourced or unaccredited facilities.

Potentially modifiable factors that increase breast cancer risk include weight game after the age of 18 and/or being overweight or obese (for postmenopausal breast cancer); menopausal hormone therapy (combined estrogen and progestin); alcohol consumption; and physical inactivity.

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.

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