Breast Cancer Awareness: Risk Factors for Latinas

Breast Cancer Awareness: Risk Factors for Latinas

Latinas are more at risk for breast cancer. Learn what you can do about it.

Amid the parade of emerging pumpkins and changing leaves, October is also the month that pink ribbons fly. That’s right, it’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month – our annual reminder to take care of ourselves (and take preventive health measures).

By the Numbers
So here’s the deal, amigas: According to the CDC and the Office on Women’s Health, Latinas actually have one of the lowest rates of breast cancer in the U.S. The bad news: Despite our lower rates, Latinas are more often diagnosed at a later stage – which means Latinas are also more likely to be diagnosed with larger, harder-to-treat tumors.

What’s more? The American Association for Cancer Research condenses our breast cancer statistics into one meaningful fact: Though, overall, Latinas are less likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer, we are more likely to die from the disease – even when our age, breast cancer stage and tumor characteristics are similar.

Put these facts together and we reach one important conclusion: Breast cancer prevention should be very, very important to us as Latina women.

Prevention for Latinas
The American Cancer Society says Hispanic women are about 20 percent more likely to die of breast cancer, given similar disease characteristics. Though the reason for this disparity is not completely understood, it is believed our increased risk is at least partly due to lower rates of mammograms and different access to treatment.

So first things first: Let’s make our mammogram rates soar this month! Gather your mothers, sisters and friends and make mammogram appointments for everyone this October. And if you don’t have insurance (or adequate insurance), mammograms can be free, thanks to the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (NBCCEDP).

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So who should get a mammogram? It’s always best to chat with a doctor about your personal history, but the general rule is that starting at age 40, you should get a yearly mammogram. At-risk women of all ages – women who have a known BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation, women with certain family medical history and other risk factors – should have a yearly MRI and mammogram.

For women in their 20s and 30s, the American Cancer Society recommends annual clinical breast exams (CBEs) and monthly breast self-exams (BSEs).

Here are some additional resources to simplify your breast cancer prevention:

CancerCare offers free, professional support services and financial assistance for people affected by breast cancer. The American Cancer Society also has a long, comprehensive list of breast cancer and breast cancer prevention resources, many of which are available in both Spanish and English.

You can help women fighting breast cancer by donating 8 inches of hair or $8 to Pantene Beautiful Lengths. Donate today!

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