According to the Centers for Disease Control, caucasian women are more likely to get breast cancer, but African-American women are more likely to die of it.
African-American women may be more likely to get an aggressive form of the disease, but that’s not the only reason for the high mortality rate.
Joyce Ashe is an avid volunteer for the Pennsylvania Breast Cancer Coalition. As a 9-year survivor herself, she works to get the word out about early detection.
“A lack of knowledge, lack of education,” said Ashe.
When she works local events, she asks women whether they’re getting a yearly mammogram. When the answer is no, she says she often hears the same reasons from women of color.
“A lot of things that holding people back is, ‘I don’t have enough insurance, I don’t have enough money to do this, I don’t have transportation.’ But now today, there are organizations out there that offer free transportation for checkups and also free mammograms,” said Ashe.
Organizations including the Pennsylvania Breast Cancer Coalition offer those resources themselves, or can tell women where to get them.
The National Institutes of Health believes a major reason women of color have a higher mortality rate is that they may be less likely to get themselves a mammogram.
“Early detection really saves lives. We know that some women are afraid to get a mammogram as well, so we try to encourage women if I’m out at an event and someone says I heard it hurts, it’s painful, I let them know it’s not that painful,” said Ashe.
Please talk with your doctor about when you should get a mammogram.