BLACK BREAST CANCER AND JOINING THE GLOBAL DOTS

THE RISING GLOBAL BURDEN OF AFRICAN HERITAGE BREAST CANCER

Regardless of race, breast cancer impacts women across the world more than any other form of cancer. It is the leading cause of death for women with 1 in every 8 cancers said to be due to breast cancer.

A disproportionate number of deaths occur among the poor and since the global poor are inordinately represented by black women of African heritage, breast cancer is of specific concern right across the world.

In the graph below, pink signifies the global incidence rates of breast cancer compared to cancers of the cervix, skin cancer, thyroid and liver.

 

 

Breast cancer is a disease that normally begins in the milk ducts of the breast. It is described by type (tumor identity) and stage (the growth of it). So, Triple Negative Breast Cancer is a type that can grow from stage 0 to stage 4 with 4 being the most advanced and aggressive.

Over the decades, a number of patterns have emerged across racial lines with some specific to women of African heritage. The problem is there is little research to scientifically confirm those beliefs. Studies that have been relied upon, are questioned because of the size (too small) and, or the overall reliability of the methods used to support those findings TELL ME MORE.  

 

WHAT IS GLOBALLY SAID OR KNOWN?

  1. Women of African heritage have a 40 per cent higher mortality (death) rate compared to white (European) women with the same breast cancer diagnosis.
  2. This pattern seems to emerge across both private and public healthcare national systems. That’s to say, the US and the UK reflect similar racial disparities in relation to black breast cancer mortality rates.
  3. Women of African heritage are diagnosed with breast cancer at a much earlier age, as early as 28 years (See Surviving the Storm) on average, about 11 years younger than white women.
  4. In general, on the first diagnosis, breast cancer for women of African heritage is more aggressive and more advanced.
  5. Women of African Heritage are disproportionately diagnosed with a more advanced Triple Negative Breast Cancer – an aggressive form of breast cancer.
  6. By the time Women have sought medical help, breast cancer has disproportionately advanced to stage 3 making treatment less likely to be successful.
  7. Black women of African heritage are described as slow to seek medical treatment for a range of reasons including a lack of trust in the medical profession, a lack of finance, prioritising other responsibilities like family.
  8. Black women of African heritage have frequently stated in research that they do not feel listened to or believed by doctors, and this has caused a delay in their diagnosis and treatment.
  9. Black women of African heritage also suffer disproportionately from the mutated BRCA gene 1 and 2. See movie: Decoding Annie Parker.
  10. When the mutated BRCA gene is present with Triple Negative Breast Cancer, the risk of breast cancer is greatly increased.
  11. Both men and women who have a BRCA1or BRCA2 gene mutation have an increased risk for developing certain cancers, including breast cancer with an increased lifetime cancer risk is as high as 75 per cent.  

PATTERNS

Although survival rates for breast cancer are very high when it’s DETECTED EARLY enough and treatment is available, 50 to 80 per cent of breast cancer cases are diagnosed at an advanced stage in many African heritage countries, including Africa and the Caribbean.

This is evidenced in the Breast Cancer Incidence graph below, where we can see that the highest incidence of breast cancer for 2020 was significant in Western Europe (90.7) and North America (89.4). In contrast, Africa and the Caribbean had almost half the number of incidences.

 

 

However, when we look at the graph below to contrast the mortality rates for breast cancer from those same countries in 2020, the picture looks entirely different, with the highest deaths in Africa (19.4) and the Caribbean (18.9). In contrast, North American had the second smallest (12.5) and Western Europe was also significantly less (15.6).

 

 

 

GENETIC OR ENVIRONMENTAL?

Many discussions have involved a genetic component, and some of those matters are raised HERE. The most recent research argues,

 

  1. There are no genetic differences between black and white people concerning the mutated BRCA genes 1 and 2.
  2. Women of African heritage are diagnosed with breast cancer at a much earlier age, and the reasons for this are unknown. Genetic differences have been muted.

 

 

Given the history of the racialised black body frequently the focus of disease, we should caution those who heavily emphasise the genetic component. The risk is to treat breast cancer as due to imperfections of the patient independent of the living circumstances and social, family demands upon black women.  

 

  • To reduce the growing burden of black breast cancer, it is now at a critical stage that we introduce EARLY DETECTION METHODS, AND WE MUST DO THIS OURSELVES.
  • We must also demand better support around EARLY DETECTION from our medical services no matter where we are in the world.
  • If we’re not going to save ourselves, who is?

 

BLACK BREAST CANCER IS HERE FOR US TO HELP EACH OTHER GLOBALLY AS WOMEN OF AFRICAN HERITAGE – MAKING CONNECTIONS AND JOINING THE DOTS IN ORDER TO HEAL EACH OTHER.

THE vision

TO CHANGE THE ENVIRONMENT AND CONDITIONS THAT CREATE BREAST CANCER

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