Mya Roberson, Ph.D., M.S.P.H.

Assistant Professor

Project Title

We Got Us: Promoting Cancer Family History Sharing Among Black Americans

Named Award

Awesome Games Done Quick


Assistant Professor


University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, N.C.

My “Why”

My interest in cancer research stemmed from my time as an undergraduate public health major. During a course in my sophomore year, I encountered a chart that displayed the change in breast cancer death rates over time across racial groups in the U.S. I noticed, that despite advances made in breast cancer treatment and detection, Black women still had markedly higher mortality rates. I want to close gaps in cancer inequities, so that disparities in breast cancer death rates can one day become history.

My Mission

Black people across the U.S. are much more likely to be diagnosed in later stages across multiple cancer types, a known contributor to inequities in outcomes. My mission is to improve cancer outcomes for Black people in the U.S. and reducing the burden of late detection is a critical part of that mission.

Research Overview

The project objective is to develop and pilot culturally relevant educational content to increase cancer family history sharing among Black families in partnership with Touch4LifeTM a patient-led non-profit organization whose mission is to increase the breast health IQ of Black, Indigenous, and people of color as well as underserved communities to eliminate disparities in breast cancer outcomes by advocating for biomarker and genetic testing parity.

The specific aims are to:

  • Disseminate a survey among Black adults to assess perceived benefits and barriers of family history sharing.
  • Conduct focus groups among Black adults to inform educational modules on family history sharing.
  • Test a tool to increase family history sharing among Black adults.

A family history of cancer can impact the cancer screening recommendations for several different cancers. Despite its importance, many people, especially in the Black community, are either unaware or possess limited information of their family history of cancer.

By empowering Black families to gather and share cancer health history information, more people can receive a cancer screening they need, promoting earlier detection of cancer.

Why Funding Matters

Funding from the Prevent Cancer Foundation enables an academic community partnership meant to increase sharing of family health history among Black families. This funding will allow us to further the conversation regarding cancer’s disproportionate effect on Black Americans and meaningfully incorporate lived experience, voices and expertise in this work. Cross-sector partnerships are the solution to health inequities, and funding is an essential catalyst for those partnerships.

My Hope

My hope is for this study to yield tangible and culturally appropriate tools for Black families to engage in crucial conversations surrounding family history of cancer. Proper knowledge and documentation of this history is critical for identifying those at increased risk for multiple cancers. By empowering Black families to gather and share this information, we can hopefully increase the type and frequency of cancer screening that is most appropriate for their risk level.