Not all breast cancer patients feel a sense of community every October during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, when pink ribbons adorn everything from cancer clinics to lipsticks. That includes Black women with triple negative breast cancer (TNBC), a fast-growing cancer that disproportionately impacts the Black community and is often more difficult to treat than other types of breast cancer. Black women are twice as likely to be diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer, more likely to be diagnosed with later-stage disease and 28% more likely to die than white women with the same diagnosis.
Black women battling TNBC can face significant health care disparities, including inadequate breast cancer screening, lack of access to treatment, lower quality care and less access to educational information. As a result, these patients often feel isolated, inadequately informed and lacking a support system dedicated to their specific needs.
Merck made a multi-year commitment to reducing disparities in preventable cancer deaths. In 2021, it launched Uncovering TNBC with the breast cancer advocacy community and Emmy-nominated actress Yvonne Orji to shed light on the unique challenges Black women with TNBC face and empower them to advocate for themselves with their health care team.
Real Chemistry conducted audience and affinity targeting research (ComScore media and Helixa data) to understand TNBC’s most at-risk audience – Black women. It reviewed secondary and third-party research for additional context.
Real-world data identified key markets where TNBC is most prevalent and Black women are least likely to have received care (as measured by mammograms): urban areas in Southern states:
Most relevant partners: Real Chemistry analyzed the patient advocacy community to determine the most impactful partners, and a media analysis to identify publications and media partners that best resonate with the demographic.
TNBC presents unique challenges for Black women:
Real Chemistry recruited Yvonne Orji, an Emmy-nominated Nigerian-American actor best known for her role on HBO’s Insecure as spokesperson/campaign advocate. With an MS in public health and a personal scare with breast cancer, Yvonne has a passion for closing the health care equity gap.
We also partnered with four advocacy groups known for fighting for heath equity.
The cornerstone of Uncovering TNBC is a three-episode web docuseries that highlights challenges Black women with TNBC can face. Hosted by Yvonne, it spotlights three brave women from the target geographic markets, who discuss their triumphs and as well as their experiences with health disparities.
An online hub provided resources to help women newly diagnosed or with a higher chance of developing TNBC understand their risks and advocate for themselves. It houses the docuseries and culturally relevant, solution-oriented resources, including a discussion guide to help patients talk with their doctor about treatment and where to find support.
Uncovering TNBC launched October 2021 during Breast Cancer Awareness Month: