For Healthcare Providers

The Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care published guidelines for breast cancer screening in 2011. For women aged 40–49 years, they recommend “not routinely screening with mammography.1” However, there was a caveat within that publication about race and ethnicity.

They also noted, “Certain ethnic groups may have higher (e.g., Ashkenazi Jews) or lower (East Asians) risk of death from breast cancer, which may alter the absolute benefit of screening.1

Furthermore, they stated, that providers “must recognize that different choices will be appropriate for individual women, and they must help each woman arrive at a management decision consistent with her own values and preferences.1

Important facts regarding risk:

1) Black women in the US and UK have been shown to develop breast cancer at an earlier age than white women2,3


2) Although Black women in the US and the UK are less likely to develop breast cancer, they are more likely to die from it, particularly between ages 15-64 years4,5.

HERC created a fact sheet for patients to give to providers, to facilitate the discussion regarding a Black woman’s risk and benefits of mammography if she is between the ages 40-49. Download it here.

For more information, please refer to our references below.


  1. Canadian Taskforce on Preventive Care. Recommendations on screening for breast cancer in average-risk women aged 40–74 years (2011).
  2. National Cancer Intelligence Network (UK). Breast Cancer : Ethnicity – NCIN Data Briefing.
  3. American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts & Figures for African Americans 2013-2014. Atlanta: American Cancer Society, 2013.
  4. National Cancer Intelligence Network (UK). Cancer Incidence and Survival By Major Ethnic Group, England, 2002 – 2006.
  5. CDC. Breast Cancer Rates by Race and Ethnicity.