Advanced Breast Cancer Far More Common in Black Women

It's a sad fact, but true.  Black women are far more likely to die of breast cancer than white women.

It's mainly because the cancer is often more advanced when it's found in black women, partly because white women are more likely to have regular check-ups and mammograms.

I remember when I was having radiation for cancer and running into a beautiful young black woman who could not have been more than 20, there for the same reason as I.

Now a new study has found that black women tend to present with more aggressive forms of cancer, too, or as the study put it, "biologically less favorable subtypes of breast cancer."

 “It’s important that research continues to address these issues comprehensively, from the biology of the disease to the development of optimal treatment and access to healthcare," the Web site quotes Raquel Nunes, MD, a medical oncologist at the Washington Cancer Institute, who presented the study. “This work is particularly meaningful for us because it complements our interest in health disparities and highlights the enthusiastic participation of African-Americans in breast cancer research.”

Unlike genetic tests such as those for BRCA genes (which are inherited and look at overall susceptibility for developing breast cancer), genomic tests look at the genes inside a breast cancer cell and how strongly they are expressed. The findings support prior research that has looked at the biologic characteristics of breast cancer in African-American women, but this specific methodology reported here was used for the first time in this population.

I was tested for the BRCA gene, and don't have it.  But I still got breast cancer.  A new study has found additional gene mutations that could indicate susceptibility to breast cancer. 

But the point remains that most cases of breast cancer are not inherited or genetic. They're most likely environmental, which makes it harder to eliminate the risk.  Have regular mammograms, biopsies if something looks suspicious, and exercise and eat right, and hopefully you'll be one of the 7 out of 8 women who will not develop breast cancer in their lifetimes.


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