World/National news – Black women and breast cancer, Iraq elections, Pakistan bomb, Iran protests

Black women and breast cancer Black women would be disproportionately affected by changes in mammogram practices, report the TC Daily Planet and NPR.  The TC Daily Planet reports:

According to the National Cancer Institute’s Snapshot of Breast Cancer, the incidence of breast cancer is highest in whites, but African Americans have higher mortality rates. In fact, African Americans have higher mortality rates from breast cancer than any other racial or ethnic group, and the gap is widening.

Part of the reason is the higher incidence of more-deadly “triple negative” cancers in black women, and especially in young black women. That means pushing back the age for routine mammograms to 50, as recommended by a government task force, would hit them especially hard.

According to NPR:

Studies suggest, in addition to higher risk factors, African-American women aren’t getting screened for breast cancer as often as white women and when they do it is later in life. Often the mammograms are not routine screening mammograms, but rather they’re done because the woman or her doctor felt a mass in a woman’s breast. …There are also questions about the care that African-American women are receiving, whether they are referred to cancer specialists in a timely way, and understand that they will need therapy after surgery. With all the issues surrounding black women and breast cancer, health professionals argue there should be separate guidelines for African-American women — and say they should get mammograms earlier and more frequently than the task force’s recommendation of age 50.

That makes sense from a financial as well as a public health standpoint, Dr. Regina Hampton told TC Daily Planet:

“These guidelines don’t make sense,” said Dr. Hampton. “When detected early, breast cancer has pretty high survival rates.” Advocacy and health care groups including the National Breast Cancer Foundation report that if detected early, the five-year survival rate exceeds 95%.
Hampton argued that early detection saves both lives and money. “The cost of treating a patient at stage 1 is definitely lower than treating her later when the cancer is full-blown.”

Iraq elections An agreement on national elections has once again been reached, reports NPR, and elections could be held as soon as February. That would mean U.S. troops could still end combat missions in August and begin withdrawal. The compromise increases the size of the legislature, allocates seats between Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish areas, and orders an “open” voting list:

Voting lists will be “open” and have all the names of the candidates. In past elections, voters had a “closed list” with only the parties — which then announced their parliament members after the ballots were counted.

Pakistan bomb This morning’s bomb report from BBC: A suicide bomber killed at least five at a courts building in Peshawar and injured more than 50.

Iran protests Protesters mark University Student Day, traditionally an anti-U.S. holiday. This year – not so much. Iranian officials arrested 20 mothers in advance of the day, keeping the mothers of slain protesters from participating in today’s anti-government demonstrations. BBC reports on clashes between security forces and protesters and on the decidedly anti-government focus of today’s demonstrations. NPR reports on the crackdown on the university:

While turmoil erupted in the streets outside Tehran University on Monday, authorities took dramatic steps to close the campuses to the outside world.

Cell phone networks around the universities were shut down. To hide anything going on inside, the fence around Tehran University was covered with banners and signs bearing quotes from Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and messages marking an important Shiite occasion celebrated Sunday. Police and members of the elite Revolutionary Guard surrounded all the university entrances and were checking IDs of anyone entering to prevent opposition activists from joining the students, witnesses said.

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