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CDC: Black Women More Likely To Die From Breast Cancer
About 40,000 women die of breast cancer each year in the United States. African American women are 40 percent more likely to die from breast cancer than white women. Those statistics are from a new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Regina Thomas was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 24.
"Once they started trying to remove the cancer, it spread and within two years she died," Regina's aunt Juanice Walker said.
She said Regina had triple-negative breast cancer; which is a type Dr. Robert Mocharnuk said is more common in African American women than other racial or ethnic groups.
"The nature of these triple-negative breast cancers makes the tumor more aggressive and because of that, they grow faster," he said. "There's a direct link between the genetics of these breast cancers and survival rates."
Despite the decline in breast cancer death rates in the past 20 years, black women had higher death rates even though they had fewer new cases of breast cancer, according to the report.
It also states black women do not get the same quality treatment for breast cancer as white women.
"Being African American, I feel like we sometimes don't go get checked until something happens," Walker said. "Preventive maintenance is the key."
Because of the Affordable Care Act, many minority women will have greater access to mammograms and other preventive screenings with no co-pays or other out-of-pocket costs.
"We know of one of the reasons why women don't get screened is because of not being able to afford the mammogram," Mocharnuk said. "So certainly if that's afforded by the Affordable Care Act, there will be more women doing it. The real question for me is will it impact the overall impact of survival knowing these are aggressive tumors."
Mocharnuk said the best advice for all women is to know your family history. Ask relatives what they know. Also see your doctor regularly, get mammograms when your doctor tells you to, and do monthly self-exams.