As more and more research is done, doctors are finding that women of various races have different breast cancer experiences. For example, research has shown that compared to white women, breast cancer in African American women tends to be:
- diagnosed at a younger age
- more advanced at diagnosis
- more likely to be fatal at an earlier age
A study found that non-white women diagnosed with advanced (stage III or higher) breast cancer were more likely than white women to have a higher level of pain, as well as pain that got worse during the course of the disease.
Every woman's breast cancer experience is unique. Many of the breast cancer differences in women of various races are because of genetics. Research also has suggested that some of the differences could be because of differences in medical care. It's possible that genetic differences are why non-white women have more pain and more trouble controlling that pain. Still, this study points out that some non-white women might not be getting enough treatment to control their pain.
Pain can be a major part of dealing with breast cancer and treatment for the disease. Pain is a common side effect of treatment as well as the cancer itself. No matter your race, there is no need for you to suffer. If you're in pain, talk to your doctor about ways to manage the pain. There are a number of options, including medications and complementary medicine techniques such as acupuncture, hypnosis, and music therapy. Together, you can find one that is right for YOU.
Controlling pain shouldn't be an afterthought; it should be one of the main components of your breast cancer care.
To learn more, visit the breastcancer.org Pain section.