October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month – a time annually devoted to educating
everyone about breast cancer and the importance of early detection and access to timely, highquality
The sad fact of the matter is that in 2023, an estimated 297,790 new cases of invasive breast cancer
are expected to be diagnosed in women in this country and an estimated 2,800 new cases in men.
And while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified breast cancer as the
second most common type of cancer in American women of all races and ethnicities, Black women
are more likely to receive diagnosis at later stages of the disease and subsequently have a higher
death rate from it than White women. This may be due to a variety of factors, but chief among
them are differences in access to healthcare, socioeconomic status, language barriers, and
sometimes even cultural beliefs regarding illness and treatment.
Like Black women, Black men face similar health disparities when it comes to breast cancer. Not
only do Black men have a 52% higher rate of contracting the disease than White men, they’re also
76% more likely to die—even with similar treatment. This, according to the Black Health Matter
Becoming familiar with early signs and symptoms can be a literal life saver. They include:
- Family history of breast cancer; women with a first degree relative with breast cancer (mother, sibling) have a higher risk of developing the disease
- Personal history of breast cancer
- Benign breast disease
- Breast density: women with highly dense breast tissue have a higher risk of developing breast cancer
Whittier Street Health Center is dedicated to helping our communities reduce this disease by
detecting it early and connecting our patients to state-of-the-art cancer care. Earlier this year, a we
were awarded a $500,000 grant to expand out breast cancer screening program, a program we run
in partnership with the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute to help provide greater access to cancer
screening and treatment to the underserved communities of Boston. This includes an on-site
mammography suite at Whittier’s main campus at 1290 Tremont Street in Roxbury.
“While it is true that cancer affects all population groups, disparities in screening, treatment, and
cancer rate are disproportionate due to economic, social, and environmental disadvantages,”
said Frederica M. Williams, president and CEO of Whittier Street Health Center. “In addition to
regular screenings, making healthy choices like eating right, staying active, and not smoking can
help reduce the risk of a diagnosis that no woman – or man – ever wants to receive.”
The Whittier Mammography Suite is open Tuesdays through Thursdays, year-round, to provide
screening mammograms to eligible patients. For more information, please call the Mammography
Suite office at 617-989-3200.