October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month
Many factors are linked to breast cancer risk. Some factors affect risk a great deal and others by only a small amount. Some risk factors you can’t change. For example, the two most common risk factors for breast cancer, being a woman and getting older, are not things you can change. Other factors you may be able to control. For example, leading a healthy lifestyle may help lower your chances of getting breast cancer.
Understanding which factors may affect your risk can help you work with your health care provider to address any concerns you may have and develop a breast cancer screening plan that is right for you. - Click here to see more about your risk for breast cancer
African American Women and Breast Cancer. . .
Although white women have higher rates of postmenopausal breast cancer compared to African-American women, African-American women have higher rates of premenopausal breast cancer. This may be due, in part, to differences in prevalence rates of some reproductive factors related to breast cancer risk. For example, compared to white women, African-American women tend to have an earlier age at first period, more lifetime periods and higher blood estrogen levels.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer among African-American women. It is also the second leading cause of cancer death among African-American women, exceeded only by lung cancer. In 2013 (most recent data available), an estimated 27,060 new cases of breast cancer and 6,080 deaths were expected to occur among African-American women.
Overall, breast cancer incidence in African-American women is lower than in white women. However, for women younger than 45, incidence is higher among African-American women than white women.
Breast cancer mortality (death) is 41 percent higher in African-American women than in white women. Although breast cancer survival in African-American women has increased over time, survival rates remain lower than among white women. For those diagnosed from 2003 to 2009, the five-year relative survival rate for breast cancer among African-American women was 79 percent compared to 92 percent among white women. There are many possible reasons for this difference in survival including:
- Biologic and genetic differences in tumors
- Prevalence of risk factors
- Barriers to health care access
- Health behaviors
- Later stage of breast cancer at diagnosis