Black women at higher risk of breast cancer

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Black women are more likely to be at risk for breast cancer than white women. Black women face a higher breast cancer mortality rate than any U.S. racial or ethnic group. We learned more from Dr. Michele Halyard of the organization the Coalition of Blacks Against Breast Cancer, which is holding an event this weekend offering free mammograms. 

We started by asking why it is that black women are more at risk than other races.

“We tend to be diagnosed with a later stage of disease, we also tend to have more aggressive disease,” Halyard said. 

Halyard explained that not only do these factors impact their level of disease, but they also tend to have a higher grade disease which tends to be more aggressive. She said that black women are more than 40 percent more likely to die of breast cancer than other races. 

We asked why there has been an increase in these numbers over the past several years.

Halyard explained that we know that the screening rate for mammograms’ between black and white women are equalizing 

“In some situations, there is less access to screening monography,” Halyard said. “There’s also less access to treatment, particularly if insurance is an issue.”

We then asked if there was more research being done regarding genetic factors.

“Yes there is a lot of research being done in terms of genetic research in risk factors,” Halyard said. 

Halyard explained that many women believe of all races is that breast cancer is an inherited disease, even though it really isn’t. 

“Only about 5% to 10%  of people who are diagnosed with breast cancer carry a genetic risk factor,” Halyard said. 

Halyard believes that it is still important for women to know their genetic background to be able to watch for the specific signs of cancer. 

Dr. Michele Halyard of the organization the Coalition of Blacks Against Breast Cancer

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