African American Men Hit Harder by Breast Cancer

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A study is a reminder that breast cancer does occur in men, especially in elderly men. And like African American women, African American men are hit harder by breast cancer than their white counterparts. After diagnosis, African American men are three times more likely to die from breast cancer than white men. This difference is probably due to the same factors suggested by research involving African American women.

One factor may be different approaches to treatment. In this study, African American men were less likely than white men to be referred to an oncologist or get chemotherapy for breast cancer; this may be because of disparities in healthcare for African American men.

Still, research suggests that breast cancers in African American men and women may have different genes than breast cancers in whites. These different genes could explain why the breast cancers in African American men were much more likely to be large and spread to the lymph nodes when diagnosed.

It's very difficult to change genetics. But disparities in healthcare shouldn't be any part of the reason for a less favorable outlook after breast cancer treatment. No matter your gender or ethnicity, do your best to make sure that you're getting the best care possible. Learn about your options. Ask questions. Seek out second opinions. Insist that the healthcare system do its best for YOU.

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