Health history is likely not something you think about on a regular basis. You might consider it once a year when visiting a healthcare provider. You flip through the required pre-appointment paperwork, answer what you can, the information gets filed away, and you go on with your routine visit. But our family’s health history can be a key indicator of our own health risks.
If we have breast cancer in our family, especially in a mother, sister, or grandmother, we can’t let this critical piece of information get lost in our patient files. That knowledge can be incredibly powerful in determining our own breast cancer risk. And as black women, we’re facing a greater risk of mortality from breast cancer than white women. Prevention is paramount and has the power to change those odds.
The State of Breast Cancer in Black Women
The rates of black women diagnosed with breast cancer are comparable to other races, and yet women are disproportionately dying of the disease despite its generally high survivability (when detected early, the 5-year survival rate for breast cancer can be greater than 98%).
Between 2010 and 2014, black women were dying of breast cancer at a rate 43% greater than white women. In Memphis, the odds of black women dying of breast cancer are