The politics of breast cancer leads to survival for some,
but death for Black women and others.
These recommendations, which are being supported by several national breast cancer advocacy organizations, do a serious disservice to Black women.
Two USPSTF assertions, in particular, could prove deadly for many Black women: 1) that breast self-exams do not save lives and are, therefore, unnecessary; and 2) that mammograms should be delayed until age 50 and, even then, performed only every other year. Three facts about breast cancer and Black women also make the task force’s recommendations inappropriate and potentially deadly. Black women: 1) tend to be diagnosed with breast cancer at a younger age; 2) are more likely to be diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer, a more virulent form; and 3) are more likely to die of breast cancer than White women.
“I strongly disagree with the notion that preventing the psychological harms and inconvenience caused by false-positive screening results, as implied in the recommendations, outweigh the importance of saving one woman’s life. We should not be in the business of rationing care,”
Ngina Lythcott, DrPH, the
“These new recommendations do not consider the data we have about younger African American women who have a more aggressive form of breast cancer,” asserts Zora Brown, 30-year breast cancer advocate and survivor and director of health and cultural affairs for INTEGRIS Health. “I think these recommendations are baffling, confusing and wrongheaded.”
If Black women follow the USPSTF recommendations, breast cancer may kill many of them before they ever have their first mammogram.
Regina Hampton, M.D., surgical oncologist specializing in breast cancer surgery, agrees with the Imperative’s recommendations: “Mammograms are the best test we have. I am appalled that the task force would make these recommendations. I have many patients between the ages of 30 – 49, who have benefited from mammography and are survivors.”
Experts are available to discuss this topic and others concerning the health and wellness of Black women. To schedule interviews, please contact Denise Espies at 202-548-4000 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Black Women's Health Imperative is a 501(c)3 nonprofit education, advocacy, research and leadership development organization that focuses on health issues that affect Black women disproportionately. It is the only national organization devoted solely to ensuring optimum health for Black women across their life span - physically, mentally and spiritually.