Breast Cancer and Minority Women

Breast Cancer and Minority Women

By David Clarence Scott, Director, Diversity & Inclusion at Roswell Park Cancer Institute

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, it is important for all women to know basic facts about breast cancer.  Minority women should have conversations with their physicians about breast cancer because the sooner a tumor is detected the greater their chances of survival.

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Latinas and African-American women are more likely than all other women to die from breast cancer. Experts believe that the reason for this increased prevalence among Latinas and African-American women is because diagnosis occurs at a later stage, when the cancer is more advanced and harder to treat. While there are no proven methods to prevent breast cancer, there are steps you can take early on to reduce your risk, such as:

* Staying physically active

* Limiting consumption of alcohol

* Undergoing breast cancer screenings.

Breast cancer screenings are important for early detection of cancer. The two most common screening methods are a clinical breast exam and a mammogram. During a clinical breast exam, a doctor looks at and feels the breasts and under the arms for lumps. Note that it is also important to do self-breast exams on a regular basis. Mammograms are a safe low-dose x-ray exam of the breasts. Starting at age 40, women should have this screening every one to two years. If you have a family history of breast cancer your physicians may recommend a mammogram before age 40.

Roswell Park Cancer Institute’s Office of Cancer Health Disparities Research (OCHDR) has two programs to help educate people about breast cancer awareness. These programs specifically target Latinas and African-American women:

* Ezperenza Y Vida: Funded in part by the American Cancer Society and the WNY-Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for The Cure, Esperanza y Vida is a program to increase breast and cervical cancer screening in Latinas living in rural and urban areas and to investigate barriers to cancer care.

* The Witness Project: A collaboration with Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Center and is funded in part by the WNY-Affiliate of Susan G. Komen For The Cure. The Buffalo/Niagara Witness Project educates African-American women on early cancer detection through stories told by breast and cervical cancer survivors in churches and community settings.

For more information about Ezperenza Y Vida contact Jomary Colon at (716) 845-4623, or at Jomary.Colon@roswellpark.org. For the Witness Project contact Detric Johnson at (716) 845-1394, or at Detric.Johnson@roswellpark.org. For general information about cancer please visit www.roswellpark.org or call 1-877-ASK-RPCI (1-877-275-7724).