Conversations about women’s breasts are always awkward. Often it is among women, and as soon as a man walks into the room, he dashes out as though he has walked into a “women only” event. The truth is, there’s one “breast conversation” that everyone needs to be a part of.
Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer, and the second most common cancer death among African American women. According to the American Cancer Society’s 2013-2014 Cancer Facts & Figures for African Americans report, African American women have the highest breast cancer mortality rate (deaths) in the United States, with 41 percent higher in African-American women than in white women.
In 2013 (most recent data available), an estimated 27,060 new cases of breast cancer and 6,080 deaths were expected to occur among African American women. Possible reasons for differences in survival include increased risk factors, late diagnosis, lack of sufficient health care, health behaviors and biological and genetic differences in tumors among African American women.
How can African American women reduce their chances of developing breast cancer? The Mayo Clinic suggests women avoid weight gain and obesity, exercise or engage in regular physical activity and get regular mammograms starting at age 40. What does this mean? It means we need to get serious about having the “breast conversation” with our mothers, sisters and daughters. It means a man should be able to walk into a room filled with women and join the breast cancer conversation. By doing so, he will hopefully educate and/or be educated about the risk factors for breast cancer in the African American community and ways to decrease that risk by taking control of your health.
What are you doing to combat the risk for breast cancer in your family or community? Share your story.