The Breast Cancer Gap

Breast cancer more lethal among black women

(RxWiki News) The good news is that fewer women are dying from breast cancer. The bad news is that black women are more likely to die from the disease, even though they have fewer new cases than white women.

A new report from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention finds that black women are 40 percent more likely than white women to die from breast cancer.

The report points out the need for better access to breast cancer screenings and follow-up care for African-American women.

"Research breast cancer screenings in your town."

CDC researchers reviewed data on the number of new cases of invasive breast cancer diagnosed between 2005 and 2010. This information came from CDC’s National Program of Cancer Registries and the National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results Program.

“Although we are making progress reducing deaths from breast cancer, we have much work to do to reduce preventable deaths, particularly among African-American women,” said CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden, MD, MPH.

The report found the following trends:

  • Roughly 40,000 women in the US lose their lives to breast cancer every year.
  • For every 100 women with breast cancer, 9 more black women will die from the disease than will while women.
  • Advanced disease is more common among black women (45 percent) compared to white women (35 percent).

Adam Brufsky, MD, PhD, professor of medicine at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, told dailyRx News, “This report emphasizes the need for education amongst all groups in society of the benefits of early detection and proper treatment of breast cancer."

The report notes that earlier detection means more effective treatment which probably accounts for the declining numbers of breast cancer deaths recently reported.

According to the report, though, black women don’t receive the same quality of care for breast cancer as do white women.

"With time, we hope that the gains we have seen in breast cancer treatment over the past few decades can be extended to all groups,” Dr. Brufsky said.

The CDC’s National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program provides access to breast and cervical cancer screenings for women who are uninsured, underinsured or have limited means.

“Only when every woman receives adequate screening, timely follow-up, and high-quality treatment, will the full benefit of breast cancer screening be achieved,” Dr. Frieden said.

This report was published November 14 in the CDC’s online publication Vital Signs.

Review Date: 
November 14, 2012