A magazine for Africans and friends of Africa...Our Voices, Our Vision, Our Culture

African Women Observe Breast Cancer Awareness Month
By Dreena Whitfield

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and African women need to take the opportunity to become aware and informed about their susceptibility to this threatening disease. In any given year, 1 out of 8 African women will be diagnosed with the disease. The Cancer Society says African women are about 20 percent less likely to get breast cancer than Caucasian women but are more likely to die from this form of cancer. Kind of scary, right?

It's the second most common cause of death among African women and is often a topic that is not discussed within the African community. This is why education about early detection, self breast exams, and mammography exams are extremely important. Breast cancer is a predator that affects many women across all races, but the late detection of it among African women is both an alarming and sad epidemic.

Stay one step ahead and be proactive in acknowledging changes in your breasts, so in turn you should begin monthly breast self-exams as early as 20 years old. Girls as young as seventeen years old are being diagnosed with the disease, so it is imperative to start educating young women on this as well. This form of cancer also has no age preference; it does not discriminate against race, size or social status. It is necessary that African women stay one step ahead due to late detection and silence about breast cancer in the community. Do not be ashamed to get to know your breasts! Make your well-being a priority; start with educating yourself and conducting self breast exams. If you are unaware of how to perform an exam, you can ask your doctor or find instructions at www.breastcancer.org. Spread awareness among your friends and family; have a doctor come out and teach self breast-exams to your circle of friends and their mothers and daughters. Start a trend!

In addition to conducting self-exams, you should discuss any changes or questions with your physician. Also, educate yourself on this disease that claims the lives of so many mothers, daughters, sisters, aunts and cousins in the African community on a yearly basis. Check your family history, a family history of breast cancer can increase a womanâs chances of developing the disease. However, if no one in your family has had breast cancer, donât think that you still canât be diagnosed with it; still take the necessary precautions and exams.

Early detection is the key to savings lives; this alone is not stressed enough. Scheduling your yearly clinical breast exams, your mammography exams (when age appropriate) and conducting self breast exams are all necessary to stay informed and healthy. In addition to taking these measures, you should try to avoid alcohol, exercise regularly, and maintain a healthy body weight; which will all help decrease your risk of getting the disease. Breast cancer should not be an unspoken topic; itâs needs to be discussed so grandmothers and mothers can be informed enough to make their daughters, nieces and cousins aware. The word of mouth is a powerful communicator; it can move mountains and start movements. Women are dying because they are scared to be informed, stop this cycle and choose to be aware and help spread the word! There is strength in numbers and if more women help prevent it...less women will have it...more women will live.