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Charity begins at home and Dr. Lucile Adams-Campbell got the message, loud and clear.

The native Washingtonian, and lifelong resident, has devoted her career to identifying health disparities in her hometown, which has some of the highest cancer mortality rates in the nation, according to the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center at Georgetown Hospital.

Adams-Campbell, the associate director for Minority Health and Health Disparities Research, has been working with the Center to improve research, community outreach and education for under-served communities. Those efforts led to her being named director of the Lombardi’s Capital Breast Care Center in southeast D.C., which provides free mammograms to uninsured or under-insured women.

Last year, Adams-Campbell was the chief investigator for a $405,000 Susan G. Komen for the Cure research grant to train investigators and researchers at the Lombardi Center who are looking into research and health care disparities in minority communities.

“Many important issues in the study of the growth and biology of cancer have been defined, and the basic mechanisms underlying these phenomena are being explored,” Komen’s board said in announcing the grant.

“Unfortunately, the extension of these findings to explain cancer risk and drug response in underrepresented minority (URM) populations has been slower and has lagged behind the research of these phenomena in the overall population. This lag is partially due to the separate training and perspectives of cancer researchers involved in clinical studies and those engaged in disparities research. It has become apparent that these trainees must have a multifaceted approach, which needs special emphasis and focus in disparities research.”

Adams-Campbell’s focus will be on prevention and studies that track patterns of disease that may provide clues to better prevention and treatment. For example, many clinical studies exclude patients with a history of diabetes, stroke, or smoking, which leaves out many minorities.

“As members of the Georgetown community, we have an obligation to reach the members of the community who can best be impacted by what we do in science here,” Adams-Campbell said on the Center’s website. “Sometimes, this means we not only invite them to come to us, but also that we go to them.”

Adams-Campbell is more than an interested party. A leader in her field, having led several large cohort studies of African American women including a major role in the Boston University Black Women’s Health Study, the largest study of African American women, Adams-Campbell has been elected to the Institute of Medicine, one of the highest honors in the field of health and medicine.

Adams-Campbell said she focuses on diet and exercise as preventive measures, especially in controlling obesity, diabetes and heart disease, because they are “big issues in the D.C. community and the [black] community at large everywhere” that impact breast, colon and prostate cancers, which have some of the highest mortality rates in the black American community.

“I would love to really build a community-based, participatory research program that’s established in the community, engaging community to address these problems.”

My breasts are painful. Can they give a sedative before the mammogram procedure?

Take pain reliever like Motrin or Alleve 1 hour before mammogram.

Can teens get breast cancer. If so, what are the signs?

Very rare but signs would be a hard breast mass and changes in skin color and nipple discharge.

My niece was diagnosed with a chronic breast disease. What is that? Where does it come from?

Probably inflammatory breast disease but must rule out cancer.  Antibiotics or steroids may be necessary for treatment.

Two out of the three last mammograms found calcification and had to be removed. Is this a sign of pending breast cancer?

Multiple biopsies increase risk so make sure you continue to get mammograms regularly

Can you have breast pain and not have breast cancer?

Breast pain is not associated with breast cancer.

I was recently told I had a blockage in my milk gland which caused the gland to be significantly larger than it should be.

This is not associated with cancer.

My mother died of breast cancer at the age of 28 back in the 80’s. What are my chances of developing cancer now at 39?

You are at increased risk of cancer and should pursue genetic counseling.

What about breast cancer in African-American men?

Although rare, men can get breast cancer.

My aunt died last Monday of triple negative breast cancer. Could this be in the family genes?

Yes, this could be in your genes.  Pursue genetic counseling.

I had a hysterectomy and I have my ovaries due to my family’s history of breast cancer. Is it true that I am at higher risk for cervical cancer because I still have my ovaries?


I had surgery for a papilloma. Should I be worried that the condition will come back?

These are benign but you want them removed.

What can we as women do to prevent or decrease our chances for breast cancer? Is there anything we can do with our diet that could help?

Annual mammography screening for early detection is important.  We have shown the physical activity is important.  Obesity is linked to breast cancer so maintaining a good healthy diet is important.

How can you exam your breasts if you have breast implants?

Continue the same breast self exam with the implants.

My wife has a concern of a blotchy spot on her breast. She’s 33. Is there a free screening she can go to?

Yes. She can go to the Georgetown Lombardi Capitol Breast Care Center at 650 Pennsylvania Ave, SE 202 784-2700.

What are some of the symptoms of breast cancer?

Hard mass in breast, change in skin color, nipple discharge and often no symptoms.

I have been having a black discharge from one of my breasts. There are no lumps, but there is some tenderness. My doctor sent me for a mammogram which came back all clear. Now they want me to see a surgeon. Is this something that is possibly related to cancer but they just didn’t detect it yet?

Black discharge raises concern so you need to rule out cancer. You can come to the Georgetown Lombardi Capital Breast Care Center at 650 Pennsylvania Ave SE and see our breast surgeon Dr. Briget Oppong at 202 784-2700.

I’ve had pain in my left breast for the last 2 weeks. My cycle began last week. I am 44. I have heavy, dense breasts. Cause for concern?

No pain, tender breast go with cycle. Pain is not a symptom of breast cancer.

Is there better equipment for mammograms available to those who have Medicaid?

3-D mammography is not covered by medicaid. It is self-pay.

(Article written by Jackie Jones,