LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Breast cancer kills tens of thousands of women in the U.S. every year but Black women face a much greater risk of dying from the disease.
African-American women are 42% more likely to die of breast cancer than white women and there’s a number of reasons why and some fear the pandemic may even widen the gap.
In recent months, many women postponed their annual mammogram. That puts African-Americans at even greater risk since they’re more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer at later stages of the disease; they also face more burdens at every step of their journey.
“The other problem is awareness sometimes because of lack of access and what some might call institutional racism there is not the ability to get in and see the physician or nurse practitioner as fast as one should,” said Dr. Russell Gollard, medical director, OptumCare Cancer Center.
He points out Black women are at particularly higher risk of developing the most aggressive breast cancer — triple negative.
“Triple negative is in many ways its own entity and has a very very high rate of coming back even after initial surgery and chemotherapy,” he said.
Doctor Gollard adds studying genetics and biology of breast cancer could go a long way to saving women of color.
“There aren’t many genetic counselors in the state of Nevada. We’re lucky enough to have one here. Getting appropriate testing order and seeing someone who can order that testing and interpret, I will say this, it’s not only for tested but for their family members.”
Besides biology, regular screenings are so important to catching cancer early and experts recommend a monthly breast self exam to detect any changes in your body.