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Howard Univ. Explores Breast Cancer Death Rates

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By Peter Granitz

Of women living with breast cancer in the District, African-Americans are more likely to die from the disease than white women, and researchers at Howard University are trying to find out why.

Data from D.C.'s Department of Health Show African American women over forty are actually slightly more likely than white women to have had breast cancer screening within the previous two years. But the District has not updated those numbers since 2000, and researchers say that trend may not true with younger women.

“A lot of young black women consider breast cancer a white women’s disease. We’re trying to disabuse them of that notion.”

That’s Howard Medical School professor Dr. LaSalle Leffall. He’s focused his research on cancer among African Americans. He says African American women diagnosed with breast cancer are more likely than white women to die from the disease.

"We want you to know that you can get breast cancer. And if you get it, you have a greater chance of not doing well," Leffall says.

Leffall says scientists are researching possible reasons why African American women are more likely to die, from increased hypertension and diabetes rates to genetics.

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