Breast Cancer is affecting the Black community at an alarming rate. Dr. Diana Wilson, Assistant Professor in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Morehouse School of Medicine, is doing her best to spread awareness in order to continue combatting the deadly disease.
According to the Morehouse School of Medicine, the risks have increased. Black women have a higher risk of death from cancer than white women. Wilson believes it is due to lack of access and resources. “In terms of African American women, a lot of us don’t have access to health care. We’re not able to get our screening mammograms and so I do try to educate women that there are some facilities in the area that do offer free mammograms,” she emphasized.
While many Black Women do not have access, some lack knowledge when it comes to family medical history. This is a huge factor when determining what age you should begin screening for breast cancer, according to Dr. Wilson.
“The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends the age of 40, but if you have a woman who has a first degree relative, say her mother, was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 40..we’re going to recommend that she starts getting screenings at least ten years prior to the age of her mother being diagnosed,” Wilson explained. “At the age of 30, she would need to start getting her screening mammograms.”
According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, knowing your family medical history can help an individual learn if they have an increased risk of receiving a specific diagnosis.
Wilson believes it is also important to increase breast cancer awareness amongst Black men. Although Black men cannot be screened with an annual mammogram like women, the security of knowing how to perform a self breast exam could go a long way.
“You want to look at your breasts because if you notice a difference in the architecture of your breast or if you notice the nipple is retracting in or around the nipple is becoming dimpled, those are signs as well,” she said.
Wilson also elaborated on the significance of Black men knowing their family medical history as well, stating that those same rules apply to men’s genetics as well.
“I think it’s just a matter of talking about it, because most men don’t talk to other men about their health, and definitely not if they’ve had breast cancer, because it tends to be something that men don’t want to talk about,” she stated.
Wilson believes, including herself and others at Morehouse School of Medicine, there are a large number of doctors looking to increase awareness and knowledge surrounding breast cancer in the Black community ,but there are some things only individuals can change to help support themselves.
“The things that we can change, we should change, such as obesity.Trying to have a healthy weight and exercising is important. Not drinking alcohol, beverages, or limiting the amount of alcohol that you drink is important because that’s a risk factor,” Wilson explained.
It remains known that it is important for both men and women to be consistent when examining yourself because it is best when it is detected earlier.
“With African American women, we have a higher risk of dying from breast cancer than white women and it’s because usually by the time our breast cancer is diagnosed..it is at a later stage due to lack of access to medical care and the disparities in health care,” Wilson stated.