Credit: American Cancer Society

The latest data from the American Cancer Society indicate breast cancer is now the most common cause of cancer death for African American women in Georgia even though breast cancer deaths overall have been declining.

Host Virginia Prescott speaks with Carol DeSantis of the American Cancer Society and Dr. Brian Rivers of Morehouse School of Medicine about breast cancer.

Carol DeSantis, lead author on the report published in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, and Director of the Cancer Health Equity Institute at Morehouse School of Medicine Dr. Brian Rivers joined On Second Thought host Virginia Prescott to discuss what the latest research means for women living in Georgia.

One in eight women will get breast cancer, DeSantis said, which is 13% of all women. But black women, especially in Georgia and five other states, are more likely to die of breast cancer than lung cancer, which is the deadliest cancer nationwide.

While white and black women are equally likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer, black women are 40% more likely to die from it. The disparity exists, partly, because black women are more likely to be diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer, Rivers said.

But other factors exist as well.

"We're also looking at the role of obesity and other comorbidities that are germane to black women," Rivers said. "And then lastly, we're looking at quality of care and the availability of this quality of care, realizing that African American women are less likely to have that access to quality care across the cancer continuum, from prevention to early detection to diagnosis as well as treatment."

DeSantis said guidelines for breast cancer indicate women should begin screening at age 45 with annual screening at age 55.

“They could then switch over to biennial screening,” DeSantis said. “But, really, women starting at age 40 should have a conversation with their doctor about their own risk factors to decide if age 40 is the right time to begin screening.”


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Brian Rivers
Brian Rivers