BATON ROUGE, La – During October, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana joins other health care organizations and stakeholders in raising awareness about the importance of breast cancer screening and early treatment, particularly for Black women and other minorities, who are at higher risk of death and late-stage diagnoses.
“Breast cancer awareness is not only important for improving health, it’s very personally important to us as an employer,” said Rod Teamer, Blue Cross director of Diversity Programs and Business Development. “At Blue Cross, we have many breast cancer survivors on our team. Almost everyone who works here, including me, has been personally affected by breast cancer either directly or through the experience of someone close to them.”
Blue Cross is leading outreach on the effectiveness of mammograms and screening to catch breast cancer in its earliest stages, before it spreads to other areas of the body and when treatment is most likely to succeed.
Breast cancer risks for Black women include:
● Black women are more likely to die from breast cancer than women of all other racial and ethnic groups, according to the National Cancer Institute.
● Black women have a 40% higher risk of dying from breast cancer than white women.
● While mammogram screening rates are nearly equal for Black and white women, Black women are more likely to be screened and diagnosed after the cancer has spread to other areas of the body, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC).
● Black women are diagnosed with breast cancer at younger ages than white women.
● Compared with white women, Black women have longer wait times between an initial breast cancer diagnosis and follow-up appointments or starting treatment.
Health officials attribute many of these poor outcomes to disparities in social or economic factors like access to quality health care providers, transportation for medical appointments, financial resources and having a strong family or social support system.
“We want to make sure everyone knows how to find the resources they need for the best shot at beating cancer,” Teamer said. “That includes getting mammograms and doing self-exams on the schedule your health care provider recommends, and, for those diagnosed with cancer, connecting you with network providers, health coaches or others who can support you in your journey.”
To advance diversity and equity in health research, Blue Cross is working to promote the National Institutes of Health’s All of Us Research Program in Louisiana. All of Us is an ambitious effort to gather health data from 1 million or more people living in the United States who reflect the country’s diversity. The program takes a special interest in diversity and including people historically underrepresented in health research, including racial and ethnic minorities. To learn more about All of Us, visit www.joinallofus.org/LA.
“Breast cancer is a disease that has recognized genetic risk factors, so knowing your health history can help you stay on top of your own needs, as well as advance treatments for others who may be diagnosed,” said Dana Deighton, associate director of Outreach & Strategic Partnerships, All of Us Research Program. “We look to honor our participants’ generosity by offering the opportunity to receive a ‘Hereditary Disease Risk’ report, which can tell you if you have a higher risk of getting a disease based on a genetic variant.” All of Us Research Program participants can choose to also receive a “Medicine and your DNA” report, which tells them how their body might react to certain medications.
About Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is committed to our mission to improve the health and lives of Louisianians. Founded in New Orleans in 1934, we are a tax-paying nonprofit health insurer with offices in every major region to serve our customers. We have been recognized for the past four years as an honoree of The Civic 50, named by Points of Light as one of the 50 most community-minded companies in the United States.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. We are a private mutual company, owned by our policyholders, with an independent Louisiana Board of Directors and no shareholders. We invite all Louisianians to visit our website at www.bcbsla.com or talk to us on social media @BCBSLA.