Breast cancer is the second most common form of cancer in the world after skin cancer. It is also one of the common causes of death in females. It affects mostly women, though it occurs in men also. The common symptoms include pain in the armpit or breast, lumps in the breasts, bloody discharge, or other changes in and around the breasts. Diagnostic tests in the form of mammograms are usually recommended to detect breast cancer.
Breast Cancer Is More Likely To Kill Black Women Than White Women
An unhealthy lifestyle, aging, obesity, excessive smoking or drinking alcohol, radiation exposure, family history of breast cancer, hormonal therapy, and preexisting breast conditions are among the common causes of breast cancer.
Breast cancer if not detected early can become invasive and metastasize to other parts of the body. However, if breast cancer is detected early, it is entirely treatable with no residual effects. The treatment options depend on the cancer stage and may include surgery to remove a part or whole of the breast, chemoradiation, or drugs.
Recent research has shown that black women are more likely to die of breast cancer than white women. The American Cancer Society says breast cancer death rates in black women are the highest than any other racial group. This is especially true in younger women aged less than 45.
The most common forms of breast cancer in black women are the triple-negative form of breast cancer, the most aggressive form of breast cancer, and inflammatory breast cancer. Even the chances of relapse are more in the triple-negative form of breast cancer.
The main reason for more deaths in black women from breast cancer or black women not responding to the standard breast cancer treatment is attributed to their lack of participation in breast cancer clinical trials, though there may be many other reasons.
One more reason may be black women are more prone to lifestyle diseases, like obesity and diabetes, which predispose them to breast cancer.
Socioeconomic factors like lack of health insurance in black women and racial wealth gap limits doctor appointments, other healthcare facilities like screening, mammography, etc. So, it is already too late, especially in younger ladies by the time cancer is detected.
Even the beauty products targeted at black women are found to have more chemicals in them, increasing their risk for breast cancer.
Dr. Vivian Bea, a breast cancer specialist surgeon at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York City says more black women should be encouraged to participate in the clinical trials for breast cancer. Black women need to be educated more to participate in such clinical trials, filling up the questionnaires provided so that more data becomes available, facilitating better outcomes.
Black women should be made aware of the risk factors of breast cancer, healthcare facilities such as screening and mammography should be made available to even the uninsured and underprivileged population.
The modern advancements in treatment, the increased awareness among ladies, higher literacy, and higher income in ladies, have led to a significant decline in breast cancer mortality, but still, there is a rise in breast cancer rates in black women.
Black ladies who are already at high risk for breast cancer should get preventive screening and mammograms done at regular intervals. Breast self-exams should be done at least monthly, and any new slight change should be brought to the notice of doctors.
A healthy diet, a physically active lifestyle, cessation of alcohol and smoking, avoiding beauty products and appliances that use chemicals can reduce breast cancer risks and increase life expectancy. More and more black women should be encouraged to participate in clinical trials for breast cancer so that more data can be collected which will help doctors to understand their breast cancer mechanisms and increase their chances of survival.
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