Heavy Burden of Young Breast Cancer in Gulf States Results in New Network
NEW ORLEANS – Many people know that one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer. What most don’t know is that 11 percent of those women will be under that age of 45. And of that 11 percent, a disproportionate share of those women will be African-American and live in the Gulf States.
That is why SurviveDAT (www.survivedat.org), a support group for young breast cancer survivors that was launched in South Louisiana almost four years ago via a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) grant to the LSU Health New Orleans’ School of Public Health, is expanding. Thanks to another CDC grant, SurviveDAT is going statewide this July and leading a partnership with Alabama and Mississippi called the Gulf States Young Breast Cancer Survivor Network.
Young breast cancer survivors often face issues that older women with the disease do not, including fertility decisions that need to be addressed before starting treatment, genetic factors (affecting male family members too), more serious types of the disease, career and financial implications and more. SurviveDAT and its partners in Alabama and Mississippi, SurviveAL (www.surviveAl.org) and SurviveMISS (www.surviveMiss.org) address these issues, while providing support, as well as national and local resources that these young woman need and want.
Table 2: Triple negative is a more serious form of breast cancer and is more common among young women. In addition, throughout the United States, African-American women are more likely to be triple negative than white women. In the 0-44 age group, approximately 20% of African-American women with breast cancer are triple negative, versus 12% of white women.
Table 3: Mortality rates for African-American women in Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi are higher than in the United States, reflecting the higher incidence rates of the disease, the type of disease and other factors, including access to health care.
Providing this information and support online, in the form websites and social media makes sense in the Gulf States, as much of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama are rural and many women are unable to travel to in-person support groups. What these women do have is digital access, with young women, especially among the African-American population, using social media platforms and owning smartphones. SurviveDAT, along with its partner sites in Alabama and Mississippi, will now enable these women to find everything from health advice and the latest news on breast cancer to where they find a makeup artist skilled in recreating eyebrows lost to chemotherapy.
For more information, go to www.surviveDAT.org at facebook.com/survivedat and follow on twitter.com/survivedat. SurviveDAT is a special project of the CDC-funded Louisiana Cancer Prevention and Control Programs (LCP) housed at the LSU Health New Orleans School of Public Health.