News | Breast Imaging | November 02, 2020

Beaumont Researchers Advise Breast Cancer Screening by Age 40 or Younger for Black Women

Murray Rebner, M.D., performing a breast ultrasound. Image courtesy of Beaumont Health

Murray Rebner, M.D., performing a breast ultrasound. Image courtesy of Beaumont Health

November 2, 2020 — Though Black women get breast cancer at a 3% lower incidence rate than white women, they are 42% more likely to die of breast cancer than white women. Wait a minute! That doesn’t make sense. Isn’t the death rate from breast cancer on a downward trend?

“We were astounded by this huge difference. The Black Lives Matter movement and equality marches inspired our research to provide better care for African American women,” said Murray Rebner, M.D., a Beaumont diagnostic radiologist who specializes in breast imaging. “My research partner, Vidya Pai, M.D., and I started to look deeply into the data to find out the reasons for this disturbing racial disparity to see if we could do anything that could save more lives of African American women.”

The physicians focused on how Black women dealt with getting screened and unique issues relevant to them. They revealed their findings recently in the Journal of Breast Imaging. Facts from “Breast Cancer Screening Recommendations: African American Women Are at a Disadvantage” include:

  1. Black women are more likely than white women to be diagnosed with breast cancer before the age of 50. Studies show 23% of breast cancers in Black women are diagnosed before age 50 compared to 16% of all breast cancers in white women.
  2. BRCAgenetic mutations are more common in Black women than in white women, although less frequent those of Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry.
  3. The triple-negative breast cancer subtype is more common among Black women. This subtype is aggressive but can have features that overlap with benign conditions like noncancerous breast lumps.
  4. Because of the higher incidence of aggressive breast cancer at a younger age, Black women might be disadvantaged by recommendations to start doing screening mammography at age 50.

Earlier breast screening gives Black women the most benefit

Screening guidelines are important because they guide doctors' recommendations and can determine if screening is covered by insurance. Breast cancer screening guidelines that recommend an older age to start screenings disadvantage Black women because they ignore key facts about their heightened risk at younger ages.

Rebner explained, “What’s even more concerning is African American women are much more likely to get a very aggressive triple negative breast cancer, which grows and spreads faster, has limited treatment options and a worse outcome. Triple negative breast cancer makes up 21% of the cases in African American women compared to 10% in white women.”

Rebner continued, “Fact one is earlier onset. Fact two is a more aggressive cancer type. Therefore, Dr. Pai and I conclude African American women need to be screened earlier, starting at least by age 40, and need to be screened yearly.”

“If African American women’s lives are to be saved, these aggressive breast cancers must be diagnosed and treated early,” said Rebner. “Heightening their risk is the BRCA2 genetic mutation, which dramatically raises the risk of breast cancer and is more common in African American women compared to non-Ashkenazi Jewish white women.”

Black women: Push for earlier screening

“Dr. Pai and I urge all women to take responsibility for their own health. Be aware of your own risks and feel empowered to discuss your risk of breast cancer and when and how often to get screened with your doctor,” advised Rebner.

But, what if you don’t have a doctor? It’s important for any woman to establish a relationship with a primary care doctor, who meets your needs and with whom you feel comfortable sharing very personal information. This could be a family medicine physician, gynecologist or internal medicine physician. Help finding a primary care doctor may be found here.

While it’s never too early for women to take a self-guided health risk assessment. Rebner recommends doing this by age 30, if you’re on the young side, or at any age if you’re older than 30. Click here for Beaumont’s free breast cancer risk assessment tool.

For more information: www.beaumont.org

Related Content

A 37-year-old woman developed a new, palpable left supraclavicular lymphadenopathy lump five days after her first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine in the left arm. On the day of vaccination, the patient was asymptomatic. This is an example of how the vaccine can mimic cancer and swollen lymph nodes. Image used with permission of RSNA.

A 37-year-old woman developed a new, palpable left supraclavicular lymphadenopathy lump five days after her first dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine in the left arm. On the day of vaccination, the patient was asymptomatic. This is an example of how the vaccine can mimic cancer and swollen lymph nodes. Read more about this case study. Image used with permission of RSNA.

Feature | Coronavirus (COVID-19) | April 09, 2021 | By Dave Fornell, Editor
While the mass COVID-19 vaccinat
3-D mammography reduces the number of breast cancer cases diagnosed in the period between routine screenings, when compared with traditional mammography, according to a large study from Lund University in Sweden. The results are published in the journal Radiology.

Getty Images

News | Breast Imaging | April 09, 2021
April 9, 2021 — 3-D mammography reduces the number of breast cancer cases diagnosed in the period between routine scr
Mobidiag Oy, a privately held, commercial-stage Finnish-French developer of innovative molecular diagnostic tests and instrumentation, announced today that it has signed a definitive agreement to be acquired by Hologic, Inc., a global leader in women's health, for an enterprise value of approximately $795 million.  This includes a cash payment of approximately $714 million for Mobidiag’s equity, and net debt of approximately $81 million.
News | Women's Health | April 08, 2021
April 8, 2021 — Mobidiag Oy, a privately held, commercial-stage F
Ultrasound is an invaluable diagnostic tool for the early detection of breast cancer, but the classification of lesions is sometimes challenging and time consuming. Could artificial intelligence hold the answer to solving these problems? Graphic courtesy of Chinese Medical Journal

Ultrasound is an invaluable diagnostic tool for the early detection of breast cancer, but the classification of lesions is sometimes challenging and time consuming. Could artificial intelligence hold the answer to solving these problems? Graphic courtesy of Chinese Medical Journal

News | Artificial Intelligence | April 06, 2021
April 6, 2021 — In 2020, the International Agency for Research on...
Videos | Point-of-Care Ultrasound (POCUS) | April 01, 2021
Here are two quick clinical examples of point-of-care ultrasound (POCUS) lung imaging and cardiac imaging using a GE
While the COVID-19 crisis is challenging, the pandemic is also giving researchers an opportunity to discover new approaches to saving lives. A study published in the JAMA Network Open on Thursday, March 25, 2021, recommends a new way for triaging mammogram patients during times of limited capacity, such as pandemic surges, when individuals may also experience anxiety about COVID-19.

Getty Images

News | Breast Imaging | April 01, 2021
April 1, 2021 — While the COVID-19 crisis is challenging, the pandemic is also giving researchers an opportunity to d
In looking at the broader impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on health and wellbeing, public health experts are examining screening rates for cancer. A new study looking at U.S. mammography screening rates during the first five months of the pandemic found both a strong rebound in breast cancer screening rates and a concerning cumulative deficit in mammograms due to missed appointments, as well as uncovering disparities when looking at screening according to race

Getty Images

News | Breast Imaging | April 01, 2021
April 1, 2021 — In looking at the broader impact of the...
ScImage, Inc. celebrates its cloud partnership with Digirad Health (“Digirad”), a division of Star Equity Holdings, after a year of successful deployment of PICOM365 for mobile imaging. Digirad’s fleet of mobile SPECT, echocardiology, vascular and general ultrasound units combined with PICOM365’s cloud image management workflow leverage each company’s strengths to create an exemplary reading and reporting environment.
News | Archive Cloud Storage | March 30, 2021
March 30, 2021 — ScImage, Inc.