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Screening The System: A Dialogue On Bias And Breast Health

Source: Noam Galai / Getty


In the words of the great Mary J. Blige, “making your health a priority is real love.”

The phrase certainly struck a chord with women around the world on Feb. 13, when the legendary R&B icon was featured in Hologic’s emotional Super Bowl commercial between the game. The medical company’s powerful ad captured the “No More Drama” crooner making time to prioritize her health amid her busy work schedule. Towards the end of the spot, Blige can be seen waiting patiently for her test results, when a Black female doctor comes in to deliver her good news about her annual screening.

“Everything looks good. See you next year,” the doctor says with ease.

The words resonated with so many female viewers, but sadly, due to the pandemic, many women have missed out on their annual health screenings over the last year.


RELATED CONTENT: Black Women Two Times More Likely To Die Of Cervical Cancer Than White Women. Dr. Jackie Says “Early Detection Is Your Best Protection.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cancer screening tests received by women saw an 87 percent decline for breast cancer and an 84 percent drop for cervical cancer during April 2020.

Among Black women and Asian Pacific Islander women, cervical cancer screenings declined by 82 percent. While breast cancer screenings declined almost 84 percent among Hispanic and American Indian/ Alaskan Native women.

For Black women, in particular, missed screenings can lead to a slew of unprecedented consequences.

As MADAMENOIRE previously reported, Black women are at a higher risk of developing cancer due to health disparities and lack of access to quality healthcare.

Out of 100,000 women, about 8 Black women have developed invasive cancer from HPV, compared to 7 white women, the CDC notes. According to the African American Women & Breast Cancer organization, Black women have a “31% Breast Cancer mortality rate–the highest of any U.S. racial or ethnic group.” Sadly, Black women are almost two times more likely to die of cervical cancer, so early detection is key to preventing critical illness.

The American Cancer Society suggests that Black women “at average risk” should begin their annual mammography screening at age 45, “although they should have the opportunity to start at age 40,” the site emphasizes. MADAMENOIRE previously spoke to Married To Medicine star and famous OB-GYN, Dr. Jackie Walters, who stressed the importance of regular pap testing beginning in your early 20s.

“Women ages 21 to 29, pap testing is crucial,” she explained. “Women over the age of 30 should not only have pap tests but have co-testing in that they’re getting pap tests and HPV. The pap test will detect if there are any cellular abnormalities on the cervix, while HPV will pick up those strains that could potentially lead to developing cervical cancer.”

Walters added, “the good news is, you only have to go in one time: One sample, two tests, which will detect nearly all of the cervical cancers.

Remember to prioritize your health this year ladies!


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