Survival of the Fittest

Survival of the Fittest

Published October 20, 2010

Last year more than 19,000 African-American women were diagnosed with breast cancer. And more than 6,000 died. Did you know that African-American women only have a 79% chance of surviving breast cancer past the 5 year mark? This is lower than any other ethnicity! 

Q: How is this possible?
A: Lots of reasons, but let’s start with detecting breast cancer too late.

Late detection is directly linked to the higher death rates from breast cancer in the African American community. And there is an easy fix.

While the majority of African American women over the age of 40 report getting the recommended annual mammogram, women without insurance are far less likely to get the exam.

Under the age of 40? You’re not off the hook. Regular clinical exams by your doctor are recommended to maintain breast health in your 20s and 30s. Also knowing the look and feel of your breasts can help you recognize when something is not right.

Speaking of not right: have you heard the rumor that young women in their 20s don’t have to think about breast cancer yet? You heard wrong. African Americans are more likely to develop breast cancer much younger than other races. So it’s very important that you know YOUR normal.

Remember, in your 20s it is very important to live a healthy lifestyle. In case you didn’t know, eating healthy, limiting your alcohol intake, staying active and keeping stress levels down if possible, are all good lifestyle choices. Oftentimes, you can lower your risk of breast cancer by making better choices.  And even if you are one day diagnosed (EARLY WE HOPE) - you may be able to do things to increase your chances for beating this disease. 

For more info about how you can lower your risk now, visit

Written by The Susan G. Komen for the Cure® Circle of Promise


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