Tuesday, December 7, 2021

HEALTHIER YOU: Addressing disparities in the impacts of breast cancer

October 14, 2021 by  
Filed under Health

Addressing disparities in the impacts of breast cancer

BY DR. ANNETTE MAYES, OB/GYN

DR. ANNETTE MAYES

As we acknowledge Breast Cancer Awareness Month for October, it is important to also be aware of health disparities. Black and white women in the United States are diagnosed with breast cancer at about the same rate, but Black women are 40 percent more likely to die of it.

Many breast cancer survivors are advocating to overcome the disparities in treatment between white women and women of color. Inequities infiltrate everything from who gets screened for genetic mutations like BRCA — which significantly raise a person’s risk of breast cancer — to which populations are being studied in clinical trials for new cancer therapies.

Researchers need to better understand how breast cancer shows up in Black women and the lack of representation in clinical trials. Guidelines published March 2018 in Journal of the American College of Radiology recommend that doctors use screening methods such as an MRI or ultrasound when screening high-risk groups for breast cancer, including Black women.

Black women are also more than 10 percent more likely than white women to develop breast cancer before age 50. And a study of women over the age 40, (published in Cancer Medicine) found that breast density was a significant factor in Black women who were diagnosed with aggressive subtypes of breast cancer, including triple-negative. The study found that Black women were 2.7 times more likely than white women to be diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer.

Research is certainly going to be a huge driver of improvement in health disparity — identifying where the disparities exist and understanding their causes, whether these be biological differences, social determinants of health, provider bias, and more. Collaboration between patient advocacy groups, innovative technology offerings, academics and life sciences researchers — breaking down these silos — will be crucial as well in addressing this complex issue.

For more information, call Las Vegas All Women’s Care at (702) 522-9640. Or visit us at 700 Shadow Lane #165 in Las Vegas.

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