Think Pink: Beat the Odds

Published on Monday, September 13, 2010 in , ,

When most people “Think Pink,” one disease comes to mind, but recent studies suggest that we should actually think about the subtypes of breast cancer as well. Even though African American women have a lower risk for breast cancer, there is actually a subtype that affects us disproportionately called Triple Negative Breast Cancer (or TNBC).

TNBC is a type of breast cancer that is more aggressive in nature. Often times it is diagnosed late and the survival rates for patients are lackluster at best. Treatment options are limited because this disease lacks three hormone receptors that usually cause tumors in the breast. Since the hormones estrogen, progesterone, and HER2 are no longer in the equation, this rules out using two of the most effective hormone therapy treatments to keep the disease at bay.

As a concerned Doll, I hope all women will be proactive. First and foremost, be aware and take precaution by using preventative methods. Continue to do monthly self checks for lumps in your breast or other irregularities. If you don’t know exactly how this is done, contact a doctor and they will be glad to help you. Studies also show that women who exercise regularly are less likely to be diagnosed with this disease. Find another Doll, join a gym together, and make sure you put your health first!

As of right now, researchers are still trying to find an effective treatment that specifically targets TNBC, but right now, chemotherapy is the only treatment it responds to. Regrettably so, women affected by TNBC are more likely to experience a relapse within 3 years of successful chemotherapy. Among these breast cancer survivors, a mere 14 percent are still alive 5 years after chemotherapy.

The thought of Triple Negative Breast Cancer may be a scary one, but as an African American woman I would rather be aware of the disease as well as its risk factors so I could be informed. With that being said, most breast cancer resources suggest that women begin getting mammograms at age 40. However, the risk factors of TNBC suggest otherwise.

Researchers have determined that TNBC affects the younger population of African American women at a higher rate. Since the disease is so aggressive and difficult to treat, some doctors have suggested that those at risk of TNBC begin to have regular breast examinations at age 20. Other factors that may contribute to this disease are:
  • ·         Women under 45 or premenopausal womsn
  •       Women who choose not to breast feed
  • ·         Women who consistently use oral contraceptives (birth control pills) for more than a year
  • ·         Women who suffer from abdominal obesity

I would like to emphasize that these are all possible risk factors. The jury is still out on TNBC as it is just being recognized as a type of breast cancer. More research has got to be done in order to identify the EXACT causes, and with Pink October coming just around the corner, I hope that our dolls actually consider being examined…SO THINK PINK AND SHARE THIS LINK...because if you’re anything like me, I had no idea about TNBC!

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