"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

Black women must have their first breast cancer screening at age 42

20 April 2023 — A brand new study suggests that girls must have their first breast cancer screening at different ages depending on their race. The study, published in JAMA network openedexamined greater than 415,000 breast cancer deaths amongst women within the United States from 2011 to 2020.

According to the study, American women are generally advised to have their first preventive medical examination at age 50.

“Black women should begin screening 8 years earlier, at age 42, while white women could begin screening at age 51, American Indian or Alaska Native and Hispanic women at age 57, and Asian or Pacific Islander women at age 61,” the study said.

“These findings suggest that health policy makers and clinicians might consider an alternative, racially and ethnically adjusted approach that begins screening black patients earlier.”

The researchers wrote that breast cancer is the second leading reason for cancer deaths in women. It is barely less common in African-American women than in white women. However, black women have a 40% higher risk of dying from early-stage breast cancer.

“The current one-size-fits-all policy of starting screening for all women at a certain age may not be fair, equitable or optimal,” the study says.

Some experts said the study was “well designed,” STAT reported.

“Breast cancer occurs earlier in certain populations,” Joannie Ivory, MD, senior oncology fellow on the University of North Carolina, told STAT. “I think what they (authors) are really trying to do is provide us with an evidence-based study to guide our conversations with patients.”

Others identified that the study didn't use data from mammography screening and subsequently may not provide a great basis for screening recommendations.