Closing the breast cancer gap

(WTNH) — A push to close the breast cancer gap. Women of certain ethnicities have a higher risk of bad outcomes. Now, some medical professionals are trying to change that.

African-American and Latina women are the most effected by this. In general, breast cancer specialists say certain ethnic groups, African-Americans and Latinas, do not do as well compared to Caucasian women.

Now, there’s a push to gather more research, like finding out what drugs work best for them, to better level the playing field.

Targeting inner city women from different ethnic backgrounds, women like Maria Castellani and Wendy Ormond, to sign up for clinical trials is the mission of breast cancer specialist Dr. Andrea Silber at Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale-New Haven.

“They don’t do as well, no matter what stage they are diagnosed,” said Silber.

“Part of that I think is because we need to learn more information about what are the best drugs, what’s the best way to level the playing field,” said Silber.

The first step is educating more women like Maria and Wendy to put themselves first when it comes to their health.

“I was always the kind of person, always was too busy, taking care of kids, working,” said Castellani.

“No mammograms. I didn’t even go to the doctor. I was bad. I’m not going to lie and then I found that lump,” said Ormond.

Both are working moms with breast cancer. Both are now on novel drugs only available to them in clinical studies.

“Don’t be afraid, don’t be afraid of it, go and do what you need to do,” said Ormond.

“Maybe it’s not for my own benefit right now, but who knows? Maybe its going to help my little ones, or other women who really is going to need this medication,” said Castellani.

The key to improving the survival rate is bridging the language and cultural gap between doctor and patient.

“Everything that I understand, Wendy needs to understand to make the informed decisions and anyone can make informed decisions. It’s just a matter of communicating with your patients,” said Silber.

“I was scared of doctors but you shouldn’t have to be afraid of doctors, you should face it,” said Ormond.

“Faith and a good doctor make wonders,” said Castellani.

Both Wendy and Maria are battling their own unique but challenging breast cancers. Silber says they are responding well to their cancer drugs.

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