Researchers say black women in California are 39 percent more likely to die from breast cancer than white women, but a new campaign aims to bring that number down. Susan G Komen spokesperson Shyrea Thompson say the "Know Your Girls" campaign encourages black women who are between the ages of 30-to-55 to treat their health with the same love and care they'd give to their own family.
"First, know yourself, know those changes in your own girls. Talk to the girls and the women in your family, and then have an informed conversation with your doctor," said Thompson.
Studies show that black women in Los Angeles are 55 percent more likely to die of breast cancer than white women. They are also more likely to be diagnosed at a younger age, and with more aggressive forms of the disease which can limit their treatment options.
What's driving this? According to Thompson, fear.
"We've gone for the mammograms, we've gone for the other screenings, and we are being diagnosed at very similar rates to white women." Thompson said. "Now though, we're still dying more, so that means that we've got to get into treatment."
"The Know Your Girls campaign introduces breast cancer education through a celebration of the powerful sisterhood between black women," Lisa Sherman, President and CEO of the Ad Council said of the campaign. “Instead of focusing on fear, the campaign provides tools and information that can help black women feel ownership around their breast health and encourages the sharing of those resources and messages with the women who support them throughout their lives.”
Affordable healthcare and access to resources can also be problematic for women in minority groups according to Thompson. Research also showed similar disparities in suvivability and treatment rates in Hispanic and Asian women.
"We like to say where you live shouldn't determine whether you live, but we know in communities across the United States that's not the case," said Thompson. "So you may live in a place where you don't have access to a 'world-renowned' cancer center, or some of the best health care."
About 40,000 woman die every year from breast cancer nationwide. The campaign aims to reduce that number in half by 2026.
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