Black Women and Breast Cancer

Concerns are growing about breast cancer in young, black, premenopausal women. This group of young women who have breast cancer has a particularly aggressive form of the disease. Young black women are more likely to die of the disease than any other group. Some scientists are blaming inadequate screening rates, while others are saying it is caused by biological reasons. Breast cancer seems to be deadlier in young black women under 55 than among white women of the same age.

Basal Form Cancer

A basal-like form of breast cancer is a quick-spreading cancer that was found in 39 percent of young, premenopausal, black women. This cancer form was found in 14 percent of older black women and 14 percent of white women who had breast cancer.

Although it is less common for black women to have breast cancer, when it does strike, it is much more aggressive and it is harder to treat.

This may be a concern for young black women who have a history of breast cancer in their family. Doctors in the past have been reluctant to schedule mammograms if the patient is under 35 to 40. This could prove to be a severe problem for those young women who may have been detected earlier.

Early Detection is Key

When breast cancer is detected in the early stages, the survival rate after treatment is much better. Young black women who have a family history of breast cancer should not take no for an answer when you ask a doctor for a mammogram. I know of one young woman whose doctor overruled a mammogram with terrible results.

Researchers are unsure if this more lethal form of breast cancer could be caused by something in the environment. There is a known disparity in early cancer detection that accounts for some of this aggressive form of breast cancer. Black women are less likely to follow through with treatment for breast cancer as well.

Screening Vital

Education and proactive cancer screening may be the answer to this problem. Young black women should do a self-breast exam monthly and have a professional screening once a year. If there is a history of breast cancer in her immediate family, a mammogram is strongly suggested.

Doctors and health care workers should be sure that young black women are educated about the dangers of breast cancer and taught early to look for early detection signs. The disease should be explained thoroughly and they should be made aware of treatment choices that are available to them. A study shows that black women who are also poor have a difficult time understanding the disease and the methods of treatment.

Any woman who has an increased risk for developing breast cancer should be made aware of the signs and take part in watching their own health. Self-exams should be made monthly at the same time each month. This will help you avoid any inconsistencies that occur because of hormonal changes. Yearly exams by a health care professional is recommended, and mammograms. Mammograms are especially recommended for women who have special risk factors for developing breast cancer.