As it stands, the recommended age for women, of all races, to begin annual mammogram screenings is 45-54 years-old. While Black and white women screen at about the same rate, Black women are diagnosed with breast cancer, on average, five to seven years younger.
According to Linda Goler Blount, MPH, President and CEO, BWHI, “About 28 percent of our cancers occur under the age of 50 and about eight percent occur under the age of 40. If that’s the case when we get screened we’re more likely to get our cancer detected at a later stage when they’re more difficult to treat,” she explained to us in an exclusive interview.
Mary J. Blige teamed up with for the Black Women’s Health Imperative (BWHI), RAD-AID and Hologic, Inc. to raise awareness around early mammogram screening with The P.O.W.E.R. of Sure campaign.
“I had an aunt who passed from breast cancer and I didn’t know she passed from breast cancer until later,” Mary revealed in the same virtual interview. “I believe my aunt would be alive today if my aunt had access to this information about how an early mammogram can save lives,” she added.
She called it “the secret.” “Black women are very private. We don’t want to share what’s going on with us in our health, what’s going on with us in our marriages. I’m a little different, I’ve always shared ok this is happening. I’m different because I’ve seen so many people keep secrets and die with those secrets.”
She continued, “The secret is what’s killing everyone.” All of which is why Mary joined the campaign and vowed to use her voice and platform to save lives. And she lives by example. Mary said getting a mammogram is so important to her she went during the pandemic.
By simply lowering the recommended age for mammograms to 40-years-old, Linda says it can save 800-1000 lives.
More information about BWHI, here.