Last updated on November 9th, 2018 at 05:20 pm
Black women in the United States are 40% more likely to die from breast cancer than White women, according to the American Cancer Society.
But a recent survey by the Ad Council found that while 92% of Black women agree that breast health is important, only 25% have recently discussed breast health with their family, friends or colleagues and only 17% have taken steps to understand their risk for breast cancer.
To address this disparity, Susan G. Komen (which funds research, screenings, treatment and education to combat breast cancer) and the Ad Council, a producer of public service communications, have launched a national campaign to educate and inspire Black women to understand their risk for breast cancer and take charge of their breast health.
The campaign is called Know Your Girls.
Black women are more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer at a younger age, at later stages and with more aggressive forms of the disease, limiting treatment options.
“As a breast cancer survivor who lost her mother to breast cancer, I understand all too well the pain and heartbreak of this disease,” Paula Schneider, Susan G. Komen president/CEO, said in a prepared statement. “We hope this campaign empowers Black women to learn about breast cancer risk and the resources available to take action.”
Know Your Girls encourages Black women ages 30 to 55 “to treat their breasts with the same attentiveness and understanding they share with the women in their lives,” Komen said.
“The Know Your Girls campaign introduces breast cancer education through a celebration of the powerful sisterhood between Black women,” said Lisa Sherman, president/CEO of the Ad Council. “Instead of focusing on fear, the campaign provides tools and information that can help Black women feel ownership around their breast health and encourages the sharing of those resources and messages with the women who support them throughout their lives.”
The campaign includes a video as well as print, television, radio and digital public service announcements that direct women to KnowYourGirls.org. The website includes resources that help women navigate breast cancer risk factors, recognize changes in their breasts and prepare to talk with a doctor.
The campaign also includes social media channels to create an online community where Black women can talk about their breast health and support each other.
Know Your Girls is part of Komen’s effort to reduce the 40,000 annual breast cancer deaths in the United States by 50% by 2026.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month
According to the National Cancer Institute, more than 266,000 women in the United States will be diagnosed with breast cancer and some 40,000 will die of the disease in 2018.
Breast cancer is the most common type of non-skin cancer in women in the United States, accounting for 15% of all new cases. And it is second to lung cancer as a cause of cancer death in American women.
There are a number of different types of breast cancer. The most common form of breast cancer is ductal carcinoma, which begins in the cells of the ducts. Cancer that begins in the lobes or lobules is called lobular carcinoma and is more often found in both breasts than are other types of breast cancer. Inflammatory breast cancer is a rare type of breast cancer in which the breast is warm, red, and swollen.
Being female and older in age are the main risk factors for breast cancer. Other risk factors include estrogen (made in the body), dense breast tissue, age at menstruation and first birth, taking hormones for symptoms of menopause, smoking, obesity, and not getting enough exercise.
Hereditary breast cancer makes up five percent to 10% of all breast cancer diagnoses. Women who have certain gene mutations, such as mutations in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes, have an increased risk of developing breast cancer and ovarian cancer.
Men can also develop breast cancer, making up slightly less than one percent of those diagnosed each year. Radiation exposure, high levels of estrogen, and a family history of breast cancer can increase a man’s risk of the disease.