Addressing Barriers to Health Equity: Breast Cancer Care for Black Women


Event: Breast Health for Black Women

Host: Peter Gilgan Centre for Women's Cancers, Women's College Hospital



Speakers:


1. Dr. Aisha Lofters (Chair in Implementation Science, Peter Gilgan Centre for Women's Cancers, Women's College Hospital)

Dr. Aisha Lofters, along with her colleagues at the Peter Gilgan Centre for Women's Cancers, used her expertise in the field of health equity to develop a research program that focuses on improving cancer screening services and prevention efforts. One of the goals of this research program is to reduce both the number of people who are diagnosed with cancer, and the number diagnosed in the later stages of cancer. Late diagnosis is often linked to barriers such as a lack of access to screening services, lack of knowledge about these services, and social barriers such as marginalization due to race, gender, and/or ethnicity.


2. Dr. Neil Isaac (Radiologist, North York General Hospital)


Dr. Neil Isaac is an adjunct lecturer at the University of Toronto Department of Medical Imaging, a radiologist working at North York General Hospital, and a Member at Large at the Black Physician's Association of Ontario (BPAO). In his role at the Black Physician's Association of Ontario, he engages in advocacy work to increase the representation of Black students in medicine and health leadership.



Platform: Zoom


Date: February 22, 2022


I chose to cover this event because I think that it is important to understand how the burden of certain health issues and diseases, such as breast cancer, is spread unequally between social groups. Factors and determinants such as race, ethnicity, religion, and gender intersect to create less privileged and more marginalized communities, which can be more vulnerable to certain diseases. At Empowering Women in Health, our goal is to address health leadership or health outcome disparities, and this event addressed both issues. It also provided great insights into the health leadership gap that exists in relation to the study of breast cancer among Black women and its determinants, and the health disparity that exists between Black women and racial or ethnic groups with regards to breast cancer.


Event Review:

The goal of this event was to educate women, particularly Black women, about the prevalence of breast cancer in the community, risk factors (such as genetic background), and steps that can be taken to lower the risks of breast cancer, including regular screened and self-examinations.


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The event included a presentation from keynote speaker Dr. Aisha Lofters. Dr. Lofters discussed what it means to identify as a Black woman, the increased prevalence of breast cancer among Black women, the determinants and risk factors that are linked to breast cancer, and the importance of cancer screening for Black women. For instance, it was discussed that health disparities in breast cancer for Black women may be due to a heritable gene that is mainly present amongst Black women. This is one reason why creating access to breast cancer screening for Black women should be a priority for health care practitioners and health leaders.


The keynote speaker presentation was followed by a video presentation created by the Canadian Cancer Society. The video presentation showcased two case studies where two individuals each shared their stories about their experiences with breast cancer, screening, and diagnosis.


The event concluded with a panel discussion featuring professionals from Women's College Hospital. Some of the topics discussed include what a mammogram is and how it's done, the importance of and barriers to screening, interventions that have worked to improve access to cancer screening for Black women, and a discussion about genes and heredity, followed by a Q and A.



The topics that were discussed and covered in this event were very important because breast cancer amongst Black women is an underrecognized public health concern. Part of the reason for this is that Black women often face marginalization due to the intersections of their gender, biological sex, and race or ethnicity. This event represents an important stepping stone towards having more open conversations for about health for everyone, especially Black women.



A recording of the event can be found on the Women's College website:


https://www.womenscollegehospital.ca/care-programs/peter-gilgan-centre/every-breast-counts/



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