Posted April 21, 2008 – Breast cancer hits African Americans harder and with more deadly force than it does other ethnic groups, and the Susan G. Komen for the Cure’s Circle of Promise campaign wants to make sure you have all the information you need to limit your risk of getting the disease.
Also, just in time for National Minority Cancer Awareness Week, “Good Morning America” host Robin Roberts chucked her wig and went ah natural with a short do. She said she was finally “strong enough” to don her close-to-the scalp cut, after the buzz-cut she got weeks ago because of her hair loss from chemotherapy. She underwent the treatment recently after being diagnosed with breast cancer.
“Don’t adjust your sets. This is the new me. Get used to it,” she told GMA viewers Monday morning.
For African Americans, breast cancer is more fatal than it is for other women. While 90 percent of White women diagnosed with breast cancer survive for at least five years, only 77 percent of Black women live that long.
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There’s also evidence that tumors may be more aggressive among Black women than they are in White women.
Consequently, cancer experts are encouraging Black women to get screened for breast cancer during National Minority Cancer Awareness Week and to learn all you can about the disease and what puts you at risk.
But breast caner isn't the only cancer that affects African Americans more adversely than it affects other ethnic groups.
African Americans have higher death rates for a number of cancers. That;s one reason that the American Cancer Society is marking the National Minority Cancer Awareness Week by continuing its efforts to reduce cancer disparities among women of color across the country. The organization is working to bringing attention to the desperate need for equal access to cancer care.
Lack of access to high-quality cancer care and prevention, including early detection and treatment, is largely responsible for the higher cancer death rate among African Americans, the society points out. African Americans are also more likely than other Americans to be uninsured or under insured, experts say.
More than one-third of Hispanics are uninsured, nearly one-fourth of African Americans and about one-fifth of both Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders and American Indians/Alaska natives lack health insurance, the society says.
“It is highly important that we focus on this disease and its prevention, especially in minority communities,” said Otis Brawley, M.D., chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society.
“We know that cancer affects everyone, and we know there are scientifically proven prevention habits and screenings that can reduce our risk or prevent the cancer altogether," Dr. Brawley said. "This is why the society considers access to quality cancer care top priority, and why we must continue our efforts to ensure access to the latest cancer information, prevention methods and treatment especially in minority communities across the country.”
Evidence strongly supports the importance of regular screening, physical activity, a healthy diet and quitting smoking in preventing and/or reducing cancer risk. The Great American Health Challenge offers fun yet healthy tips to help people incorporate enjoyable habits into their lives to help reduce their risk of cancer.
“One-third of African American adults report no leisure-time physical activity, and 45 percent of African-American adults are considered obese. Rates of obesity have increased among Hispanics and remain higher in Hispanics than non-Hispanic Whites,” Dr. Brawley said. “Since we know that obesity is associated with an increased risk of several chronic diseases including cancers of the breast, prostate and colon, it is important to incorporate healthy eating habits and physical activity into minority communities.”
The American Cancer Society offers programs and services – from providing free housing for cancer patients and their caregivers to free cancer information through the 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week, toll-free National Cancer Information Center (1-800-ACS-2345) – to assist anyone facing cancer or visit www.cancer.org.
Also, check here for more information about the Susan G. Komen for the Cure’s Circle of Promise campaign, which is geared toward heightening breast cancer awareness among African Americans.