In May of 2023, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force released a recommendation that women of average risk should begin biennial breast cancer screening at age 40, rather than the previously recommended age of 50. In an interview with The Philadelphia Inquirer, Dr. Lola Fayanju, PC3I Associate Director and Division Chief of Breast Surgery for Penn Medicine, said that screening earlier will help detect aggressive cancers sooner in thousands of women, but these updated guidelines would only be a start.
Because the new recommendations are for people of average risk, Fayanju emphasized that many women do not realize that they may be at a higher risk for breast cancer, and suggested that women start talking to their doctors about their breast cancer risk in their 20’s. Additionally, to better understand their risk level, Fayanju recommends speaking to family members, as genetics are a strong predictor of breast cancer.
Fayanju also points out disparities in both breast cancer care and clinical trial participation among Black women. Findings from one of her recent studies showed that Black women were more likely to experience treatment delays than white patients—further stressing the need for earlier conversations and screening.
To address disparities and improve participation among Black women in clinical trials, Dr. Fayanju calls for:
- reconsidering exclusion criteria to include people with other chronic health issues
- better explaining clinical trials to potential participants
- addressing co-pays and additional costs associated with trial participation
- diversifying clinical trial leaders to develop more trusting relationships with patients.
For more, read the full story from The Philadelphia Inquirer.
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