Hey, Lovelies, I’m sincerely happy you landed here! Whew! We have been watching, experiencing, and going through a lot these past couple of months. I now understand what the elders mean when they say, “If it ain’t one thing, it’s another.” I hope you’re taking care of yourself with everything happening in the world. As we all know, October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, so I wanted to focus on Black women and breast cancer. By the end of this, I want to encourage you to feel those tatas and encourage someone else you know to do the same. So, let’s get into it!
Did You Know?
- In the United States, women have a 1 in 8 chance of being diagnosed with breast cancer.
- Black women are disproportionately affected by more aggressive subtypes of breast cancer.
- The mortality rate for Black women with breast cancer is 42% higher than that of white women
- Men can also be diagnosed with breast cancer
Cancer, But Not the Astrological Sign
I’m a nerd at my core, so it’s time for a Biology 101 Lesson! The human body is impressive. The way that everything in our bodies starts as a cell, can regulate itself, and can identify a harmful invader is a thing of wonder.
However, sometimes, our bodies can work against us. Cancer is the overgrowth and overproduction of abnormal cells in the body. Most cancers are caused by changes to genes that control how our cells function, grow and divide.
Some of the genetic changes are caused by errors in cell division, damage from harmful substances in the environment, and sometimes we simply inherit them from our parents.
The breast is made up of three parts: lobules, ducts, and connective tissue. The lobules are the glands that produce milk, the ducts are tubes that carry milk to the nipple, and the connective tissue (fibrous and fatty tissue) holds everything together.
Breast cancer is when the cells in the breast grow abnormally. These cells then divide quicker than healthy cells and accumulate to form a lump. Most breast cancer begins in the ducts or lobules, spreading through blood vessels and lymph vessels.
When cancerous cells spread from the breast to the lymph nodes or other parts of the body, it is metastatic. Some risk factors for breast cancer are genetic mutations, family history of breast cancer, endocrine disruptors, lifestyle factors (i.e., diet, exercise, smoking), age, and race/ethnicity.
Breast Cancer Disparities
Black women bear the burden of being unevenly affected by breast cancer. Black women are more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer before the age of 45 than white women, who are more likely to be diagnosed between the ages of 60 and 84. As a result of late-stage diagnoses, Black women are approximately 40% more likely to die from breast cancer at every age than white women.
Triple-negative breast Cancer (TNBC) is an aggressive and rare type of breast cancer that is highly likely to spread faster to other parts of the body and return after treatment. Because of this, the survival rates are low compared to