Black women in the United States are less likely than White women to be diagnosed with breast cancer at a young age, however their risk of dying from the disease is higher at 42 percent.
Dr. Regina Hampton practices in Prince George’s County and Washington, D.C. (Courtesy photo)
Dr. Regina Hampton is one of the few female breast surgeons in Prince George’s County, Md. Her practice, Signature Breast Care, provides breast services to both men and women. Dr. Hampton is also the Medical Director of the Breast Care Center at Doctors Community Hospital, the first in Prince George’s County.
“I’m a general surgeon and I was one of the few female surgeons in Prince George’s County, which is where I practice primarily. And I just really didn’t like how breast care was being delivered, especially because most of the women were African American. So I decided in 2009 to focus my practice to be just a breast only practice. And I opened the first dedicated breast surgery practice in Prince George’s County. And then from there then helped my primary hospital, which is Doctors Community Hospital, open the first breast center in Prince George’s County,” she told the AFRO.
Dr. Hampton, who was born and raised in Seattle, obtained her medical degree from the Medical College of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia and completed her surgical residency at Howard University Hospital in Washington, D.C. After realizing the lack of resources in the area, she set out to make a difference.
“I just have a passion for it and what’s motivating for me is I really want to change the statistics for women in Prince George’s County, Ward 7, and Ward 8. I’m really motivated by just trying to make a difference in the community.”
With those low income areas in mind, Dr. Hampton went on to co-found Breast Care for Washington (BCW). BCW was founded to provide women with access to breast cancer screening in the District of Columbia. Their operations were specifically designed to overcome current barriers that prevent low-income, medically underserved women from receiving high quality breast care. Their location in Ward 8 brings services to locals that previously were unable to receive care because of either distance to providers, a lack of transportation options, or just a lack of knowledge.
They offer an abundance of services including initiation into screening, assistance with identifying eligibility for public assistance programs and post image navigating services.
Washington D.C. has had the unfortunate distinction of having some of the highest rates of breast cancer mortality in the country. The latest CDC statistics show the District of Columbia high numbers in both breast cancer incidence rates (132.8 per 100,000) and breast cancer mortality rates (29.6 per 100,000) According to the District of Columbia Department of Health, breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the District of Columbia and the second in deaths.
When speaking of her legacy, in addition to striving to significantly decrease the mortality rate and increase the survival rate, Dr. Hampton hopes that the conversation on diligent breast care continues.
“I think if we can be more open and talk more public about it, we can help more women. I hope to inspire others to keep the conversation going and to be positive and supportive to other women so that they don’t feel ashamed.”
BCW will be marking the milestone of serving their 2,000th patient at the end of October.
“Breast cancer is not what it used to be. It’s not a death sentence, it can be survived,” she said.