LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — As Breast Cancer Awareness Month comes to a close there is an alarming disparity concerning the number of black women fighting breast cancer.
While black and white women get breast cancer at about the same rates, black women are 40% more likely to die from the disease and are also more likely to be diagnosed before age 40 when annual screenings typically start.
For instance, Darlene Bassett-Waters gets annual mammograms.
At the age of 53, she’s had two breast cancers identified early.
Doctors are dealing with the fact that black women are more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer that would not have been caught early by screening mammography.
Plus, it’s more likely to have been caught after they develop a symptom or a mass, which means it’s typically at a later stage.
“Those are the real messages I want to convey to my fellow black women is that know your body, know your family history, take ownership of your health and really definitely begin screening at 40, if not sooner if you’re found to have a family history that makes you at risk for a higher risk for breast cancer,” said Dr. Lola Fayanju a breast surgeon from Penn Medicine.
She also says with the risks for younger black women, she encourages them to have a breast cancer risk assessment with their doctor at age 30 and also do self-breast exams.
Black women are also more likely to develop a specific type of aggressive breast cancer called triple-negative breast cancer, which has a poor prognosis because there is a lack of effective treatments for the disease.