Why now is the time to talk about Black Women and Breast Cancer - an interview with surgeon Ms. Georgette Oni

Breast cancer is a complex disease that affects subgroups of patients in different ways. In the case of many Black women, this can often be in the form of aggressive instances of breast cancer, and presenting at a later stage.

Ahead of the Let’s Talk about… Black Women and Breast Cancer 2023 Conference, we spoke with the events founder, Ms. Georgette Oni, to understand why it’s so important to raise awareness of this disparity in outcomes and treatments, what can be done to close the gap and what people can expect from this year’s conference.

Q. Why did you originally set up the ‘Let’s talk about… Black Women and Breast Cancer’ conference? 

If you look at the overall picture we are getting better and better at treating breast cancer despite the rising incidences. People are surviving their diagnosis, they are living longer and they are living (we hope) well. We are even seeing this trajectory with those that are diagnosed with secondary or incurable breast cancer.  

However, Black women are not doing as well. We are still more likely to have a worse grade and stage of breast cancer, more likely to be diagnosed younger and are triple negative disease is more prevalent. If that was not enough, research has also shown that Black women have worse survival rates. 

The aim of this conference was to raise awareness about this disparity for Black women so they can start to look at ways to reduce their risk, know when and how to present, and what cancer treatments may entail.  

But this conference is also for the wider breast cancer community of researchers, care givers, third sector providers and healthcare professionals, so that they too can be aware of the disparities and identify how to address this glaring inequality of outcomes. 

I think what is particularly unique about this conference is the partnership between those with lived experience and the medical community.  Almost half of our faculty are those that have lived through or are living with the disease. The shared learning is tremendous and inspiring.

Q. What are the plans for this year's event? 

This is our fifth year and our theme is 'Look how far we have come' - as we celebrate the progress made since our very first event. Our 2023 conference - hosted in London on Saturday 21st October - is a celebration of the initiatives across the UK and beyond that have helped to make real strides to reduce inequalities in this space.  

We are also hosting watch parties around the country so that those that cannot make it down to London can still enjoy the atmosphere with a group of like-minded people closer to their homes. We have a packed day of informative talks, Q+A sessions, and workshops, including bra-fittings, plus a dedicated health care professionals lecture series.  

It wouldn’t be possible without the support of our sponsors over the years, of which Endomag has been there with us from day one. What has been gratifying to see is that major companies, charities and individuals have been so willing to give their time and their financial support to make sure the conference runs every year.

Q. How can people get involved? 

It’s extremely simple, just visit www.bwbc2023.com and sign up to take part. Come and join us in-person at the Royal Society of Medicine on Wimpole Street or drop in to one of our watch parties hosted in Aberdeen, Nottingham, West Midlands, Sheffield or Manchester.  

Or if you’d rather join from home, there’s an option to watch virtually. We have people that dial in from Africa, America and Australia every year! 

Ms. Georgette Oni is a Consultant Plastic, Aesthetic, Reconstructive and Oncoplastic Breast Surgeon, based at the Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust.

Endomag have proudly supported this event since its inception in 2019, and will be in attendance for this 5th year anniversary celebration. We look forward to seeing you there.