Breast Cancer And Black Women, What You Need To Know

During Breast Cancer Awareness Month it’s important for us to take a look at the unique factors that affect African-American women.

The people over at Madame Noire have compiled a list of 10 new facts that every black women should be made aware of.

Fact # 1: Breast cancer is the most common cancer and the second leading cause of death among African American women. (American Cancer Society, Cancer Facts and Figures for African Americans 2011-2012)

Fact #2: African American and white women now have the same rate of mammography use. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Surveillance of screening-detected cancers [colon and rectum, breast, and cervix] – United States, 2004-2006)

Fact #3: Among women under age 40, African Americans have a higher incidence of breast cancer than white women. (American Cancer Society, Cancer Facts & Figures for African Americans 2009-2010)

Fact #4: The five-year survival rate for African American women diagnosed with breast cancer is 79 percent. (American Cancer Society, Cancer Facts & Figures 2010)

This figure is lower than that of any other ethnic and racial group in the United States. A few reasons for the disparity are biologic and genetic differences in tumors; the presence of risk factors; barriers to health care access, particularly follow-up after a tumor has been detected during screening; unhealthy behaviors such as diet; and being diagnosed at a later stage.

Fact #5: The incidence of a second breast cancer in an opposite breast is higher among black women. (Fourth American Association for Cancer Research Conference, The Science of Cancer Health Disparities, Sept. 18-21, 2011)

Fact #6: The prevalence of Vitamin D deficiency in black women is up to six times higher than that of white women. (Era of Hope Breast Cancer Conference, Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program, Aug.2-5, 2011)

The high melanin content in darker skin reduces Vitamin D absorption so black women have to be especially mindful of their Vitamin D intake to reduce their cancer risk.

Fact #7: “Traditional” values are associated with worse screening histories and lower screening intentions. (Cancer Control 2008;15(1):63-71).

Fact #8: Women who don’t breast feed have a 50 percent higher chance of developing certain types of breast cancer. (Black Women’s Health Study, Cancer Epidemiology, Bio-markers & Prevention, 2011)

A recent study found that 54 percent of black mothers try breast feeding, compared with the national average of 73 percent.

Fact #9: African American women who use oral contraceptives have a greater likelihood of developing breast cancer. (Black Women’s Health Study, Cancer Epidemiology, Bio-markers & Prevention, 2011)

No form of birth control is without risk, but a study found breast cancer to be 65 percent greater among black women using oral contraceptives.

Fact #10: Social support from family and friends is important during diagnosis and survival stages. (Cancer Nursing, Nov/Dec 2008)

For more information on breast cancer please visit or call For information: 1-877 GO KOMEN (1-877-465-6636)


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