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Your Genes Matter: An Embrace You Collaborator Blog by Dr. Kendra Outler, MD.

Your Genes Matter

In these jeans are more than my hips, thighs, and legs. My jeans are wrapped around my cells that hold my family history, the genes of my life. My uzima!

October marks Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and Dr. K wants to tell you that your genes matter in this fight against breast cancer.

There are four different subtypes of breast cancer. These are referred to as the “genes” of the cancer. This classification is important as the subtype can affect treatments used. Uzima is specifically highlighting triple-negative breast cancer.

According to the American Cancer Society, 10-15% of all breast cancers are triple-negative breast cancer. Over 90% of these cases occur in Black women.

Triple-negative breast cancer tends to be more common in women younger than 40, who are Black or of African descent, or who have a BRCA1 mutation. Black women in particular are 41% more likely to die from breast cancer and twice as likely to be diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer. Why? The American Cancer Society states, “The wide disparity in breast cancer death rates between Black and White women likely reflects fewer cancers being diagnosed at a localized (early) stage (57% in Black women compared with 67% in White women), as well as less access to high-quality treatment.”

Triple-negative breast cancer is the hardest to treat because the tumor lacks both hormone receptors and HER2 over-expression, which means it does not have a target chemotherapy. According to the American Cancer Society, “Chemotherapy might be given first to shrink a large tumor, followed by surgery. Chemotherapy is often recommended after surgery to reduce the chances of the cancer coming back. Radiation might also be an option depending on certain features of the tumor and the type of surgery you had.” Genetics plays an important role in determining who might be more at risk for inheriting breast cancer. There are two key genes that can lead to breast cancer, BRCA1 and BRCA2. Inheriting harmful variants of these genes has the potential to increase the risk of breast cancer, and can lead to the development of cancer at younger ages. Knowing the breast cancer history of your female and male relatives is important.

Lower Your Risk: Breast Cancer Plan

The key to lowering the number of Black women who die of breast cancer is having an action plan to lower the risk.

Get your mammogram.

  • Talk to your doctor as to when you should have your first mammogram.

  • This can sometimes vary from CDC recommendations based on your family history.

  • Know what your breasts look and feel like. If anything feels abnormal, go in for a checkup with your doctor as soon as possible.

Know if other women in the family have breast cancer or have died from breast cancer.

  • Knowing your family history is important as genetics play a key role in your risk for being diagnosed with certain cancers.

  • If you are diagnosed, discuss your subtype or “gene” with your doctor so you can have the best treatment options.

In this video, Dr. Outler, the founder of Uzima Health and Wellness, shares more information about the need to do self-breast examinations and getting your scheduled mammogram.


Learn more about our Embrace You Collaborator - Dr. Kendra - Uzima Health & Wellness

"How To You Reduce Your Breast Cancer Risk" IG Live with Dr. Sylvia and Dr. Kendra

Other Embrace You Resources:

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