Inclusion Matters in Breast Cancer
By Emily Wegenke, MSW Intern
All people are at risk for being diagnosed with breast cancer, that is why an inclusive breast cancer awareness month is critical. Women of color have a heightened risk for being diagnosed with late-stage breast cancer (Breast Cancer Prevention Partners, n.d.). Although white women are diagnosed at higher rates than women in the BIPOC community, Black women have a 31% mortality rate, this is the highest mortality rate of any racial group (Breast Cancer Prevention Partners, n.d.). Why you may be asking? One reason is that BIPOC women are not screened as early as white women. This may be a result of lack of access to quality insurance or not knowing family history.
When a patient has a family history of breast cancer it is recommended that preventative screening starts five to ten years prior to the cancer diagnosis of a family member (Azu, 2019). For people who were adopted or do not know members of their family are unable to voice this concern to their medical team. Leading to women being diagnosed with breast cancer at later stages making treatment options more difficult. Utilizing universal screening earlier than the recommended age of 40 is a step to ensure that individuals malignant tumors are found at a treatable stage.
It can feel overwhelming to read about the barriers the BIPOC community faces for breast cancer. Take a deep breath. Advocating for yourself within a medical setting is the first step to ensuring early prevention for a possible cancer diagnosis. If your doctor is not willing to hear your concerns, it’s okay to ask to be referred to someone knew. Ultimately, you must feel comfortable when working with your oncology team.
For more information about the impacts of breast cancer on black women check out the Breast Cancer Prevention Partners website: https://www.bcpp.org/resource/african-american-women-and-breast-cancer/