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Rewriting the Story of African Americans and Breast Cancer

February is Black History Month. Did you know that African American women have a survival rate that’s 41 percent lower than their counterparts? The same research indicates that African American women are often diagnosed at later stages, sometimes with more aggressive forms of cancer and at younger ages.

Susan G. Komen has pledged to ensure that this group of women are empowered with the information and tools they need to take charge of their own health and serve as ambassadors in their local communities.

We sat down with Komen OC’s LarLeslie S. McDaniel, Circle of Promise Community Resource Advocate, to discuss this alarming trend and Komen’s initiative to change this reality.

LarLeslie McDaniel

1) Can you explain why there is an immense disparity between African American women and their counterparts in diagnosis/survival of breast cancer?

There is no simple answer to this question as there are many contributing factors; some of which may include:

  • An increasing trend towards breast cancer incidence and late stage diagnosis
  • Fears around screening and diagnosis
  • Loss to follow-up (not receiving timely medical follow-up and/or not completing treatment continuum of care)
  • Lack of trust in the medical system
  • Lack of knowledge of resources and medical recommendations
  • Uninsured or underinsured without access to high quality medical treatment and/or screening services.

2) What are some general tips to reduce the risk?

Early detection is key to survival. If diagnosed early, the 5-year relative survival rate for breast cancer is 99%. Some risk factors can be controlled and others can’t. The two greatest risk factors for breast cancer are being female and getting older, which cannot be controlled.  It is important to note that while “risk factors” are associated with an increase chance of getting breast cancer, they do not cause breast cancer. These are Komen’s recommendations:

  • Know your risk.” Learn about your family health history and talk to your health care provider about your own personal risk.
  • Get Screened. Ask your doctor which screening tests are right for you if you are at a higher risk.
    • Have a mammogram every year starting at age 40, if you are at average risk.
    • Have a clinical breast exam at least every 3 years starting at age 20, and every year starting at age 40.
  • “Know what is Normal for You.” Know how your breasts look and feel and report any changes to your health care provider right away.
  • Make Healthy Lifestyle Choices.” Maintain a healthy weight. Exercise regularly. Limit alcohol intake and menopausal hormone use and breastfeed, if you can.

3) What is the Circle of Promise?

The Circle of Promise is a California Initiative created by all Susan G. Komen affiliates in the state of California, including Orange County, to address breast cancer disparities at all levels, specifically targeting African American women age 40 and older.  The goal of the initiative is to empower women with the knowledge and resources to enter and seamlessly move through a quality, culturally competent system of health care; to get information, get support and gain access to services that could save their lives.

4) What local resources are available for African-Americans in Orange County if they are uninsured or underinsured, and in need of mammography screening and other resources?

Komen OC can help. Our network partners with health care agencies, hospitals, various community partners and companies to provide all the possible resources to support women, and their families, through their breast cancer experience. You can find resources for mammography, support groups, financial assistance, and local events among others.

We encourage you to help us rewrite the story. The COP Partnership meets bi-monthly for members to learn more about community partnerships and increase breast cancer awareness in the African American community.  The next meeting is on Tuesday, March 27, at 7 p.m. at the Komen OC Affiliate office on 2817 McGaw Ave. Irvine, CA 92614.

Help us rewrite the story of African Americans and breast cancer by joining the Circle of Promise. You can reach LarLeslie McDaniel at 714-957-9157 Ext. 29 or lmcdaniel@komenoc.org.

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In Honor of Black History Month, Help Us Rewrite the Story

In October 2016, Susan G. Komen announced its bold goal to cut the nation’s 40,000 breast cancer deaths by half in the next decade. In order to reach this ambitious goal, Komen’s efforts will be twofold:

  • Extend breast health services to underserved and uninsured populations
  • Enhance research focus on the most aggressive forms of breast cancers

Black History Month

Did you know that African American women have a survival rate that’s 41 percent lower –sometimes even 74% in certain metropolitan area- than white women? It is about time we address this issue!

Nationwide, Komen launched the program Health Equity for All, subsidized by a $27 Million grant from Fund II Foundation. This initiative will initially target 10 metropolitan areas where mortality rates and late-stage diagnosis of African-American women are the highest. The goal: to reduce the mortality gap by 25 percent within five years in Memphis, St. Louis, Dallas, Los Angeles, Virginia Beach, Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia. Baltimore and Detroit are also high-priority areas and will be included in the program over the next year.

Statewide, The Susan G. Komen Circle of Promise California initiative was launched in 2014 by seven California Susan G. Komen Affiliates to provide African American women with education and breast cancer screening. On February 27, Circle of Promise will be hosting a roundtable for a much-needed discussion on the breast health of African-American Women in our community. We are thrilled to have Shyrea Thompson, Senior Manager, Special Initiatives at Susan G. Komen as a keynote speaker. You can attend this event by signing up here.

2017 roundtable invitation

Locally, you can also make a difference by joining the Circle, and becoming part of a movement that gives all African American women access to breast health information, services and support that can save lives.

Overall, there are many ways you can support us:

  • First, speak up. Talk about it.
  • Second, make the promise to take care of your own breast health and take action, such as:
    • Talking to your health care provider about your own personal risk
    • Having a mammogram every year starting at age 40 if you are at average risk
    • Knowing how your breasts look and feel and report any changes to your health care provider
    • Adopting a healthy lifestyle to help reduce your risk of breast cancer

Help us empower all African-American women to get information, get support and gain access to services that could save their lives. Rewrite the story. Change history. Get involved today!

Joining Hands to Empower African Americans in a Circle of Promise

Every day, breast cancer impacts many individuals from diverse backgrounds. But did you know breast cancer mortality rates differ depending on your ethnicity?

Among African American women, breast cancer is the most prevalent form of cancer found, with lung cancer being the second most common cause of cancer deaths. Despite the fact that African American women are diagnosed with breast cancer less frequently than Caucasian women, the mortality rate is higher – but why? Often, breast cancer is found in African American women at a more advanced stage, when it is more difficult, or impossible, to treat.

Here are tips on how to reduce your risk of getting breast cancer:

  • Maintain a healthy body weight. Obesity after menopause increases your chances of developing breast cancer.
  • Reduce your alcohol intake. The more alcohol a woman consumes, the greater the risk of breast cancer.
  • Breastfeeding. Women who breastfeed reduce their risk of breast cancer.
  • Regular mammograms. The American Cancer Society recommends women over the age of 40 get annual mammograms.

PortiaJackson

Susan G. Komen’s Circle of Promise is a resource and awareness program created specifically for African American women and men affected by breast cancer. We’re happy to have Dr. Portia Jackson, doctor of public health, recently join the Orange County Affiliate as the new strategy & implementation consultant for the Circle of Promise initiative.

Q: How does it feel to be the first strategy and implementation consultant for Komen Orange County?

A: I’m excited to engage and mobilize the African American community in Orange County to educate themselves and others about their breast health, to ultimately decrease breast cancer disparities among African American women.

Q: How will the statewide Circle of Promise strategy unfold in Orange County?

A: My goal in Orange County is to identify and serve diverse, underserved communities with high breast cancer mortality rates by providing community organization and direct education, as well as enabling screening and navigation services. We will address breast cancer disparities among African Americans who are rarely or never screened, low-income, uninsured or recipients of Medi-Cal.

Q: Tell us about yourself. What did you do before joining Komen Orange County?

A: I worked for the Center for Disease Control and Deloitte, as a consultant. On the side, I also work as a professor at UCLA focusing on the behavioral, economic, and biological underpinnings of racial and ethnic health disparities in the United States. I hold more than a decade of professional experience in the health industry.

Please join us in giving a warm welcome to Dr. Portia!

To learn more about the Circle of Promise initiative in Orange County visit: http://bit.ly/1gj7jxU or contact Dr. Portia Jackson at 714-957-9157 ext. 29.