Breast Cancer Risk for African American Women

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It’s been understood for some time that African American women are more likely than women of other races to be diagnosed with forms of breast cancer that are advanced stage, aggressive or hard to treat. Even though black women and white women get breast cancer at about the same rate, black women die from breast cancer at a higher rate, according to the CDC.

New research may have insight into one reason why.

Breast Cancer Risk

A study has found that African American women are more likely to be diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer, an aggressive form of breast cancer that is difficult to treat and more likely to reoccur.

In a study of 415 women of various races, African American women were three times more likely than white or Hispanic women to be diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer. It accounted for about 30 percent of breast cancers in African American women and may partially explain why breast cancers in African American women tend to be more advanced and aggressive.

Reducing Risk

While public health officials and researchers continue to work to reduce racial disparities in breast cancer, it is important that African American women continue to pay special attention to their breast health. When breast cancer develops, diagnosing it at its earliest stage can make it easier to treat.

If you are over 40, schedule a mammogram every year. Between mammograms, make sure your doctor performs regular breast exams, or you may consider doing them yourself. Some women will benefit from more aggressive screening that starts at a younger age.

Every woman has a different individual risk of developing breast cancer that is dependent on a variety of factors, ranging from family history to lifestyle. New breast cancer risk assessment models can take these factors into consideration. They allow doctors to help patients understand their specific risk of developing breast cancer and create appropriate screening and lifestyle management programs to aid in prevention.

Every year, new research into breast cancer helps form a better understanding of how the disease works, and how we can best treat it.

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