By Team

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – With October being Breast Cancer Awareness Month, it’s important to highlight the disparities in treatment and survival of breast cancer for Black women.

“Don’t put it off. If I would have put it off, you know, where would I be?” said Darlene Bassett-Waters.

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Bassett-Waters now gets annual mammograms after having two breast cancers identified early.

Research shows significant disparities for Black women in breast cancer detection and treatment.

While Black and white women get breast cancer at about the same rates, Black women are 40% more likely to die from the disease and are also more likely to be diagnosed before age 40 when annual screenings typically start.

“So we’re dealing with the fact that Black women are more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer that would not have been caught early by screening mammography,” explained Dr. Lola Fayanju, the chief of breast surgery at Penn Medicine. “It’s more likely to have been caught after they develop a symptom or a mass, which means it’s typically at a later stage.”

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Fayanju said with the risks for Black women, especially younger Black women, she encourages them to have a breast cancer risk assessment with their doctor at age 30 and also do self-breast exams.

“Those are the real messages I want to convey to my fellow Black women is that know your body, know your family history, take ownership of your health and really definitely begin screening at 40, if not sooner If you’re found to have a family history that makes you at risk for a higher risk for breast cancer,” she said.

It’s something Bassett-Waters wants her daughters to know.

“My story to them was this is the reason why we need to take care of our bodies,” said Bassett-Waters, who knows first-hand the importance of early detection and treatment.

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Black women are also more likely to develop a specific type of aggressive breast cancer called triple-negative breast cancer, which has a poor prognosis because there is a lack of effective treatments for the disease. Team