By Katherine Hough
Working at the Breast Health Center and seeing how many African American women come in for breast screening in comparison to White women saddens me. I see 80 percent more White women than African American biweekly.
Studies have shown that though White women are more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer, it is African American women who have the highest death rates of breast cancer. Though this is shocking to many, the CDC has found that African American women are 41 percent more likely to die of breast cancer than Caucasian women even though they have a lower incidence rate.
After numerous years of research, it has been found that the primary reason African American women are more likely to die of breast cancer is because they are more likely to get screened later and the cancer is detected at a time when it is irreversible. In these studies, it was found that most women were afraid of receiving bad news, or were frankly unaware of the prevention strategies that are readily available to them, such as mammogram screenings.
As a public health student and also an advocate for women’s health and education, it brings me great distress knowing how many women are dying from breast cancer that could have been detected earlier. Having breast cancer can lead to many dire consequences and affects both your life and the life of your loved ones.
Getting screened for cancer late can mean that you are in a later stage of the disease and this decreases your chances of survival. Too many African American women are dying from breast cancer, leaving their children to grow up without mothers.
I’m writing you to help me raise awareness about this disparity. We have to spread the word to help save the lives of African Americans, to let them know that they are at risk. More education is needed in African American communities about the importance of early screening.
As public-health workers and citizens of this great nation, we need to make it our mission to diminish the racial health disparities that result in the death of so many women that could’ve been saved.
I appreciate your time!
Katherine Hough is a resident of Brooklyn Park.