Study shows breast cancer kills more Black women than white women
A lot of things happen during the month of October, but perhaps it’s most importantly known for being Breast Cancer Awareness month and the importance of self-examination and mammograms. It’s especially important for Black women because a recent study confirms what we already know: the disease is far more deadly for Black women than white women.
Researchers at Sinai Urban Health Institute working with the Breast Cancer Research Foundation studied breast cancer death rates in the 50 largest U.S. cities between 2010 and 2014. The findings were morbidly shocking. Black women were 43% more likely to die than their Caucasian counterparts, as reported in the journal Cancer Epidemiology.
The report gets even bleaker for Black women in certain areas of the country. The racial mortality gap is widening in 24 of these cities. Atlanta was home to the highest disparity in survivors, with Black women 117% more likely to die from breast cancer over white women. The odds were also heavily skewed against Black women in Austin, Texas; Wichita, Kansas; San Antonio, Texas; and Kansas City, Missouri.
There is a silver lining in the report: Memphis, Philadelphia and Boston showed much more level survival rates between races.
“We were surprised that the disparity in Black/white breast cancer mortality rates has continued to grow in the U.S. and in the majority of cities studied,” co-author Bijou Hunt from the Sinai Urban Health Institute said in an interview. “We are encouraged by the progress made in Memphis, Philadelphia and Boston, but this data reveals that there is still more work to be done.”
What could be the cause for the vast and deadly racial disparity?
“Several factors could be at work such as lack of access to early detection screenings, treatment, advocates, insurance,” said Dr. Marc S. Hurlbert of the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, who is calling for more research to understand the disparity.
The color pink is now synonymous with Breast Cancer Awareness Month and the color is all over. Turn on an NFL game on football Sunday and you’ll see players wearing pink cleats and gloves. Your local news broadcasters are wearing pink ties or pink blouses. Let’s hope this subtle constant reminder encourages women to seek more information about breast cancer; especially Black women.
For information on how to be breast health aware, questions to ask your doctor and more, please visit www.nationalbreastcancer.org
[Image Credit: Getty Images]