Study: Black Women Should Be Screened For Breast Cancer At Age 40

Study: Black Women Should Be Screened For Breast Cancer At Age 40

Although the lifetime breast cancer risk for American women is only 13%, Black women account for 12% of those numbers, according to the Susan G. Komen Foundation.

Now, in order to combat the risk of infection and, subsequently, reduce the number of Black women who succumb to breast cancer, a team of international researchers is suggesting that screening begins earlier in our community.

In a study posted today in the journal JAMA Network Open, the researchers claim that clinical trials could help conclude whether Black women should begin screening at 42 rather than 50, the current suggested age by many medical professionals.

“The take-home message for U.S. clinicians and health policymakers is simple. Clinicians and radiologists should consider race and ethnicity when determining the age at which breast cancer screening should begin,” Dr. Mahdi Fallah, an author of the new study and leader of Risk Adapted Cancer Prevention Group at the German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg, Germany, told CNN.  

Black women have a 4% lower diagnosis rate than white women but a staggering 40% higher breast cancer death rate. “Also, health policymakers can consider a risk-adapted approach to breast cancer screening to address racial disparities in breast cancer mortality, especially the mortality before the recommended age of population screening,” said Fallah.

“Guidelines for screening actually already do recommend basing a woman’s time to initiate screening on the risk of developing cancer, though race and ethnicity have not been traditional factors that go into these decisions,” Dr. Rachel Freedman, a breast oncologist at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, who was not involved in the study, told CNN.

Currently, the American Cancer Society does not make suggestions with specific racial and ethnic groups taken into consideration.

“We are in the process of updating our breast cancer screening guidelines, and we are examining the scientific literature for how screening guidelines could differ for women in different racial and ethnic groups, and by other risk factors, in a way that would reduce disparities based on risk and disparities in outcome,” Robert Smith, senior vice president for cancer screening at the American Cancer Society, said in an email to CNN.