For over a decade, Bright Pink has encouraged all women to take a proactive approach to their breast and ovarian health. Though all people with breasts and ovaries face some cancer risk, these diseases do not affect all women in the same way. Black women are 42% more likely to die from breast cancer than white women, and in 2018, the American College of Radiology and the Society of Breast Imaging recommended that Black women be added to groups considered at higher-than-average risk for breast cancer.
Notoriously left out of the national women’s health conversation, Black women deserve more personalized content to drive behavior change and start to change these odds. Bright Pink is committed to connecting with and engaging this audience with intentionality and purpose in hopes of leveling the playing field related to personalized prevention. As such, we’re launching a campaign this February called “Hey, sis” focused on engaging young Black women in proactive health management. This year-round campaign will feature digital advertising, inspirational social content, storytelling on Bright Pink’s blog, influencer engagement, brand partnerships, and more.
To kick things off, we’ll set the stage by diving a bit deeper into risks Black women face specifically. Throughout the year we’ll share additional content under the “Hey, Sis” umbrella that features personal breast and ovarian health experiences from Black women, personalized health recommendations for the Black community, progress being made to address these barriers, and more. Join us, follow along, and spread the word – because we’re stronger when we all work together in pursuit of the bright future every woman deserves.
Health disparities between Black and white women in the US have existed for decades and were first recognized 30 years ago. Today, even though Black women are less likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer, they are still much more likely to die from the disease than their white counterparts. Black women are 42% more likely to die from breast cancer than white women. That’s a significant increase compared to 1990, when Black women were 17% more likely to die from breast cancer than white women.1
Why such a big difference? Overall, Black and white women develop breast cancer at similar rates, however, Black women tend to face much harder diagnoses. For one, they are are more likely to develop breast cancer before the age of 40. They also have higher rates of triple negative breast cancer, one of the most aggressive types of the disease. Though triple negative breast cancer only represents between 15 and 20 percent of all breast cancers,2 Black women are twice as likely to receive this diagnosis. In addition, women with triple-negative breast cancer are more likely to have a BRCA gene mutation, an inherited mutation3 that increases their risk of breast cancer between 69 and 72 percent in their lifetime and raises their risk for ovarian cancer to between 17 and 44 percent.4
Beyond their biological risk factors, Black women face multiple barriers in accessing prevention and early detection services because our healthcare system fails to provide women with appropriate information, integrate risk assessments into primary care, and provide risk identification and management services at an affordable cost. They have lower screening rates when compared to white women, causing doctors to detect their cancers at a later, more aggressive and life-threatening stage.
The treatment experience is also uniquely challenging for Black women, complicated by their tendency to experience more prominent scars post- surgery, and their potential to develop keloids and hypertrophic scarring in addition to hyperpigmentation. Not to mention, Black women have a complex and deeply personal relationship with their hair.
At Bright Pink we believe that knowledge is power; that risk awareness can be the catalyst for women to access more frequent screening, pursue genetic testing, and access treatments not routinely recommended to the general population. These actions can greatly improve their chances of preventing cancer or detecting it in its most treatable stage.
We are not so naive as to think that we alone can solve this problem. But, by leaning into our strengths in digital content, innovation, and partnerships with the healthcare industry and beyond, we can certainly play a significant role in the solution. We’ll continue to ensure our resources speak to and meet the unique needs of Black women throughout the country, so that when presented with the opportunity to take control of their health, Black women feel heard, understood, and supported to do so. We’ll pursue new opportunities to welcome Black women into our community, to brighten up on their breast and ovarian health, assess their risk, explore their genetics, partner with their providers, and more.
Everyone deserves the opportunity to live a healthier life, no matter who they are.
And sis, that includes you too.