October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. For support of the cause and to help women in need, this article will focus on the disenfranchised minorities suffering from the effects of breast cancer. Black women in the U.S. have recently been contracting it at a young age but the diagnosis guidelines recommend the time for screening at an older 40-50 range. Black women are receiving their treatment too late.
Breast cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer with more than 240,000 diagnosed each year. It develops when cells within one’s breasts grow and form tumors that can spread to other parts of the body. Anyone — regardless of gender — can get it but those most likely to risk developing it are cisgender women, those related to/inherited BRCA genes, and being over 50-years-old. As a result, women are more of a prominent factor in breast cancer statistics than men due to men having a minuscule amount of breast tissue. Trans women can also develop it as a result of hormonal therapy. In order to decrease risks, breast cancer screenings are put into place.
These breast cancer screenings are based on age and risk levels of contracting it. The general recommendation for starting screening is 40. It has been recorded that 1 in 8 women in the United States will develop breast cancer; 1 in 33 will likely die from it. For black women, however, it is more common for them to develop the BRCA gene. While black women are slightly less likely to contract breast cancer from various sources than white women, black women’s mortality rate is 42% higher than white women. Black women have a number of barriers, systematic and personal, that stem from that mortality rate.
According to the Susan G. Komen Foundation, “African American women are often diagnosed with late-stage breast cancer when treatment options are limited, costly, and the prognosis is poor.” Black women need to be protected. In this year alone there have been so many instances of them being put down and abused by systemic racism and inherent sexism that exists in this country. Breonna Taylor has turned from a victim of police violence and systemic racism into a trend, and we need to do better. Megan Thee Stallion has stood her ground in order to protect the man who shot her from the same system in place, but still received slander from him and victim-blaming from the community and we can do better. The black community is still under hegemonic observation regardless of being able to afford advantages or not: discriminatory practices continue even in other minority groups who have the ability to pay for health care services. In this age, we have to have each others’ backs and support one another in a world that is not willing to help us completely, within a community.