Black women should be screened earlier for breast cancer, according to new study by JAMA Network Open. Researchers recommend that Black women be checked around 42 years old, which is nine years younger than white women.

What Did The Study Find?

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The study found that breast cancer mortality rates for Black women between the ages 40 and 49 were higher than women of other races. According to the study, out of every 100,000 Black woman in their 40s, 27 of them will die of breast cancer. The study also found that when the recommended screening age is 50 years old, Black women reached the risk threshold eight years earlier than other women.

Risk Adapted Cancer Group’s leader Mahdi Fallah addressed the alarming results from the study in a recent interview with CNN.

“The take-home message for U.S. clinicians and health policy makers is simple,” Fallah said. “Clinicians and radiologists should consider race and ethnicity when determining the age at which breast cancer screening should begin.”

Why Is this Happening?

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Studies have shown cancers growing in young women are more aggressive. Black women’s breast tissue is also denser than women of other races. That makes it harder for mammograms to detect cancer cells. However, there are other race disparities that contribute to Black women getting cancer.

Researchers at the Breast Cancer Research Foundation found that Black women are prone to obesity, heart disease and diabetes. Institutional racists acts, such as redlining, lead to the lack of access to resources, like proper nutrition and affordable housing.

Black women also have to navigate medical racism, which effects their decision to return for follow-up appointments and complete of therapy. The American Association For Cancer Research reported that Black women deal with “implicit bias.” This means that medical professionals often disregard or undervalue Black women’s health concerns.

Possible Solutions

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The Breast Cancer Research Foundation recently released an article on how to eliminate the breast cancer disparities and gave suggestions for how to close the gap. The team discovered that Black women have a higher incidence of mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. They acknowledged that improving poor diets, increasing access to quality diagnostic tools and studying low-income communities will help those in underserved communities.