Angelina's Announcement: What It Means for Black Women

Dr. Aletha Maybank wonders in a piece for Ebony whether the celebrity-inspired buzz around prevention will help reduce racial disparities in treatment.

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Angelina Jolie speaks in her role as a United Nations humanitarian envoy. (Alastair Grant/Getty Images)

Dr. Aletha Maybank wonders in a piece for Ebony whether the celebrity-inspired buzz around prevention will help reduce racial disparities in treatment.

Earlier this week, many of us were surprised to learn that Angelina Jolie made the brave choice to have a double mastectomy and then chose to share her story with the entire world via The New York Times. Her announcement ignited a flurry of conversations that have crossed racial and gender lines. Social media network communities were engaged in a dialogue and people were sharing experiences, knowledge, and words of support. The buzz helped many realize that it is a big deal for a 37 year old, high profile celebrity disclose why she made the difficult choice of removing not only one but two of her breasts. This exchange is important for all, but especially for the African-American community.

African-American women are two times more likely to die from breast cancer even though we are diagnosed less than White women. African-American women are also more likely to get aggressive, fast growing, hard-to-treat breast cancers known as triple-negative cancers. This is different than the BRCA-related cancer that Jolie sought to avoid. However, despite the more aggressive cancers seen in African-American women, recent studies have shown that for all types of breast cancer, aggressive or not, survival rates among African-American women are lower.

Despite the fact that African-American women get mammograms at the same rate as White ones, there are some critical factors that likely contribute to the disparity in survival rates ...

Read Dr. Aletha Maybank's entire piece at Ebony.com.

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