Health Magazine

Breast Cancer’s Toll on African-American Women

Posted on the 30 November 2011 by Jean Campbell

African-American womanThe National Cancer Institute (NCI) estimates that 230,480 women are expected to be diagnosed with breast cancer, while 39,520 women will die from it in 2011. There are currently more than 2.6 million breast cancer survivors in the United States.

According to the NCI, nearly 27,000 African-American women are expected to be diagnosed with breast cancer this year. While they are less likely than white women to be diagnosed with breast cancer, they are more likely to die from it than any other race and are more likely to be diagnosed at an advanced stage.

Lack of medical coverage, unequal access to improved treatments, and barriers to early detection and screening, account for the striking racial disparities according to NCI . Across the board, the death rate for all cancers combined is 25 percent higher for African-American women than for whites.

What can be done? My years as a navigator taught me that outreach can be effective when done on a regular basis in churches  serving  African-American congregations. Survivors from the community and health care providers in the community can reach a significant number of women by speaking to the congregation when they are present for a service.

Community centers are also sites where African-American women gather for activities for themselves and for their children. A breast health fair, a presentation or a workshop can also get the word out.

Whatever the method of reaching African-American women, it must include information on where to go to access care from a mammogram through all the stages of treatment, if needed. Information must include how to pay for care…private insurance, Medicaid, Medicare and what is available for those who are uninsured.

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