No one wants to talk or even think about their chances of developing cancer. But for Black women, who are 40% more likely to die from the disease than white women, it’s crucial that you are well aware of the risk factors and the facts.
Here are four key stats and recommendations that Black women of all ages should know about their breast cancer risk and prevention strategies:
1. Understand the risk factors.
Did you know that up to 30% of breast cancers can be prevented with lifestyle changes?
Some risk factors that increase your chances of getting breast cancer are:
Being overweight or obese
Not being physically active
Family history of breast cancer
Race or ethnicity
Obviously, there are risk factors, like your race, or family history, that you cannot change. But you can certainly commit to a healthier lifestyle that can reduce your risk of developing breast cancer.
2. Know the facts.
It’s important that, as a Black woman, you understand the facts and disparities that exist around breast cancer. Here are a few critical ones to keep in mind:
Black women who develop breast cancer and are under the age of 40 have been shown to have more adverse factors, receive more aggressive treatment, and have poorer outcomes compared to older women.
Black women under the age of 50 had a death rate that was twice as high as white women of the same age.
According to the American Cancer Society, Black women have the lowest survival for all subtypes of breast cancer.
While we can all admit these facts aren’t the best to see, knowing them can motivate you to take the proper preventative measures.
3. Get screened early.
We’ve all heard this before, but it’s true—early detection is the best form of protection and prevention.
According to the American Cancer Society, women should have an annual mammogram as early as age 40 if they want to, but definitely by age 45. And if you have a family history of breast cancer, you should absolutely start screening even earlier than 40.
It’s normal to be anxious about a screening like a mammogram, so don’t hesitate to bring a loved one to support you through your appointment.
The most important tip: get to know your breast with self-exams.
We know talking and even thinking about cancer can be a lot, but it’s vital that, as Black women, you’re all aware of the risk factors and prevention measures like self-exams.
Visit Breastcancer.org to learn how to perform a breast exam on yourself at home.