Socioeconomic and racial disparities have long hindered access to breast cancer screenings. Fortunately, the Maryland-based Brem Foundation strives to broaden early detection so every woman can have more positive health outcomes.
While the disease may be more prevalent in older women, young people may also be susceptible. Ensuring preventive care, regardless of background, is critical. See how the Brem Foundation is helping women detect the early stages of breast cancer.
Women of Color Face Barriers to Breast Cancer Prevention
Experts recommend women aged 45 to 54 get mammograms annually and every two years once they turn 55. However, access to early detection is not always possible. There are wide-ranging barriers to preventive screenings for women of color and low-income communities, putting more women at risk of developing breast cancer.
According to one study, Black women with Medicaid insurance from 30% of 44 states were less likely to get mammograms. Their reasons included health care barriers, anxiety, societal beliefs and norms, misinformation and mistrust in the medical field. Financial burdens — the cost of care, health insurance, transportation and time off from work — were other prominent factors.
Yet, Black women have a 40% higher mortality rate for breast cancer than white women, making early detection all the more important for women of color.
Hispanic, Native American and Asian women also have more breast cancer-related deaths among their populations. The statistics are so stark medical experts advise a new approach to screening recommendations based on race and ethnicity.
How the Brem Foundation Is Breaking Barriers
Founded by Dr. Rachel Brem of the George Washington Cancer Center, the Brem Foundation seeks to break the barriers keeping women from preventive care. Its mission emphasizes early detection through education, delivering greater access to mammograms and advocating for women’s health. As a result, women receive timely breast cancer screenings at more curable stages.
For instance, breast cancer is the second-most prevalent cancer in women, with ductal carcinoma — starting in the lining of the ducts — being the most common type. When found early, there is a favorable prognosis and survival rate.
Dr. Brem — a breast cancer survivor herself — recognizes the importance of female empowerment, encouraging everyone to advocate for their health and well-being. Preventive measures for breast cancer shouldn’t be a fearful process as much as it is motivating. If women are concerned about their risk, it is critical they seek multiple opinions and challenge medical recommendations.
Initiatives for Early Detection
The Brem Foundation’s efforts in broadening the early detection of breast cancer are impressive. It breaks its work down into the following initiatives:
- Education: The CheckMate health quiz personalizes your risk factors and delivers talking points for you and your doctor.
- Trending topics: The foundation sends newsletters with the most current news on breast cancer developments, screening and treatment options, research, and personal accounts.
- Participation: Women can participate in Brem’s events, volunteer opportunities, educational events and programs.
- Funding opportunities: Under-resourced women can receive financial assistance for diagnostic testing.
- Advocacy: Brem collaborates with nonprofit organizations, businesses and community groups to advocate for open access to breast cancer screenings for women of all backgrounds.
- Re-Bra Program: Women who have undergone mastectomies can donate their bras to underserved women who can’t afford them.
- Transportation: Brem spearheads the Wheels for Women program in collaboration with Lyft and B-Fund. Women can access screenings with free transportation.
The Wheels for Women program is significant. According to the National Equity Atlas, 18% of Black households do not own a vehicle. Meanwhile, Asian American, Hispanic and Native American households without a car ranged from 11% to 13%.
Affordable and reliable transportation is critical for receiving breast cancer screenings and treatment. People must be able to get to their appointments for medical care.
Brem’s extensive resources are also crucial, as women should be aware of the early signs of breast cancer. Breast itchiness, pain and redness are all indicators. Of course, learning how to feel for lumps correctly is the most common way women detect something is wrong. You should check for lumps once monthly to look for changes in breast tissue.
Empowering Women and Saving Lives
A screening could be all it takes to save a life. Expanding access to preventive care can keep every woman safe from breast cancer, regardless of their background and means. The Brem Foundation hopes to boost women’s access to health care so everyone can live healthily.
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