Physicians typically use additional tests to detect or diagnose breast cancer if a patient is concerned that a previously discovered lump may be malignant. Women may be sent to a breast surgeon or specialist. She does not have cancer or need surgery at this time. Breast issues are common, and these specialists are skilled at diagnosing them.
Whether breast cancer is detected, more tests are performed to determine if the disease has progressed beyond the breast. Staging describes this process. Your breast cancer’s stage is based on whether it has simply spread inside the breast, to the lymph nodes beneath your arm, or beyond the breast. In order to choose the best course of therapy, physicians need to know the breast cancer’s subtype and stage.
Black Women & Breast Cancer
Breast cancer is an equal opportunity disease in terms of getting it, but Black women have a 41 percent higher mortality rate than white women. We must understand the demographics of breast cancer, the factors that predispose women to develop the disease, the different subtypes of breast cancer, and the preventative measures that can be taken to lessen the likelihood that women, particularly Black women, will suffer from the disease and ultimately succumb to it. The ability to anticipate problems and head them off may save and even extend lives.
One of the few ways this can be done is by greatly encouraging and elevating the importance of really changing the game on Black women participating in clinical trials, improving outcomes, and changing the statistics around the 40 percent difference in survival rate for Black women vs. white women.
The mortality rate from breast cancer is 2.6 times higher among women of color under the age of 30 than it is among white women. Under 35-year-old Black women are twice as likely as white women to be diagnosed with breast cancer. That’s a long time before the advised age of 40 when women should get their first mammogram.
Cancer Treatments Are Not One-Size-Fits-All
Cancer treatments aren’t a one-size-fits-all kind of thing, particularly when it comes to Black American women. To highlight the need to increase minority enrollment in clinical trials, the California Black Health Network (CBHN) recently hosted a virtual panel discussion with medical experts and survivors.
Breast Health: Women, Wisdom, and Warriors was the most recent entry in the Health4Life Series from the CBHN. The WISDOM study, or Women Informed to Screen Depending On Measures of risk, was a major topic of conversation because of its emphasis on the significance of regular breast screenings for Black women and the need for more Black women to participate in research.
Many Black women see the doctor and go out knowing nothing more than when they walked in. Your doctor may not know much about your disease, but that shouldn’t stop you from researching it or seeking a second opinion.
A doctor’s ignorance should not decide the future. We just don’t have the scientific knowledge to