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Mary J. Blige is leading a new breast cancer campaign aimed at Black women after confessing she ignored breast cancer screenings and mammograms until she was 40.

As part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the 50-year-old "Family Affair" singer hopes to bring attention to breast cancer screenings and preventative care in an effort to save lives.

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Taking part in a panel discussion organized by bosses at Hologic, the company behind the 3D Mammogram exam, Mary urged women of color to set aside medical mistrust and negative experiences with doctors and make sure they stay on top of cancer check-ups.

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"My aunt died from breast cancer and my grandmother died from cervical cancer and one of my aunts just died from lung cancer," Blige said, according to The Source. "What happens is they end up in the hospital and there's no one in our families speaking about it when we're younger.

"I didn't know about breast cancer or mammograms until I was 40 and I was in the music business and I was trying to take care of myself. My body started talking so I started listening. I found out about it at the GYN (gynecologist). They don't discuss this when we're children. They don't say, 'Go get a mammogram'. You learn about this as you get older."

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Mary said it's "extremely important" to let women know, "that no matter how scary it is or who's telling you it's scary, take care of you. Take care of your health... I want to help women heal from breast cancer. I want to help us feel beautiful all the way around."

Screening tests include clinical and self breast exams, mammograms, genetic testing, ultrasound, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Screenings help to detect breast cancer early in asymptomatic women to improve outcomes.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, breast cancer is the most common cancer in women, regardless of race or ethnicity.

According to Breastcancer.org, about one in eight women in the U.S. (about 12.4 percent) will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her life.

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Researchers say more lesbians and bisexual women are diagnosed with breast cancer than heterosexual women. According to the National LGBT Cancer Network, lesbians, bisexuals and women who have sex with women are at greater risk for cancer due to certain stereotypical behaviors, stigma, and socioeconomic status.

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breast cancer awareness

New breast cancer screening guidelines have been issued for Black women and women of color who are at high-risk for breast cancer. Statistics show more black women die from stage 3 and stage 4 cancers than non-Hispanic white women.

Black women are least likely to be diagnosed with stage 1 cancer because they were not screened in time.

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Swizz Beatz

American rap producer Swizz Beatz is urging men to get a colonoscopy to check for cancerous polyps in the colon. The 39-year-old father of 5, whose real name is Kasseem Dean, posted an Instagram.com image of himself lying on a hospital gurney after undergoing a colonoscopy.

He told his Instagram followers he fulfilled a promise he made to a friend who died of colon cancer.

Swizz captioned the photo in part:

"Today I did a Colonoscopy, which many men refuse to do until it’s too late. It only took 2days for the entire process and thank God I’m okay. I wasn’t going to share this but I promised my brother I would spread the word to prevent others from going through what he did Blessings to all. Your health is your wealth... F@ck Cancer...."

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