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Family First: Honoring National Black Family Cancer Awareness Week

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Oncology Center of Excellence, Project Community has declared June 17—23, 2021, as National Black Family Cancer Awareness Week. Black families are among the hardest hit for aggressive types of breast cancer, late stage diagnoses and poor outcomes. In addition, Black women tend to face disparities in breast cancer treatment.

During National Black Family Cancer Awareness Week, Susan G. Komen will provide resources to empower Black women to take charge of their breast health, eliminating obstacles and breaking down barriers to the lifesaving care everyone deserves.

Black women have the highest mortality rate from breast cancer compared to all other racial and ethnic groups in the United States – they are about 40 percent more likely to die from breast cancer than white women. Black women can take charge of their breast health by knowing their family history and better understanding their health risks.

Alicia was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was 34. She was scared—but not shocked. There is a history of breast cancer in her family, but they never talked about it. “So, I took action. I learned about my family history and had conversations with experts,” Alicia said. “Having a doctor who cares about your family health history and who will listen to you is so important.”

Knowing your risk, knowing your normal, getting screened on a regular basis and choosing a healthy lifestyle are crucial steps in taking control of your breast health.

  • Know Your Risk – Talk to your family about your family health history, then talk to your doctor about how this impacts your risk of breast cancer.
  • Know Your Normal – Breasts come in all shapes and sizes. It’s important to know what’s normal for you – how they look and feel – , so you can report any changes to your doctor.
  • Get Screened – Regular screenings help detect breast cancers early, when treatment is easier and potential outcomes are better.  Screening recommendations change based on age and whether or not you are at high risk, so talk to your doctor to learn which screening tests are right for you and when you should get screened. Komen has a helpful reminder tool.
  • Choose a Healthy Lifestyle – Making healthy lifestyle choices may reduce your risk of breast cancer, so maintain a healthy weight, add exercise into your routine, limit alcohol intake, limit menopausal hormone therapy and breastfeed, if you can.

*Komen’s participation in the National Black Cancer Awareness Week was made possible by Pfizer.