Although racial differences in breast cancer survival have reduced in recent years, black women with the illness continue to die at double the rate of white women.
Racial Disparities In Breast Cancer Survivors Reduces, But There’s Room For More
According to research that followed breast cancer rates in Florida from 1990 to 2015. Overall, fatalities from the illness decreased among Black, Hispanic, and white women, with minority women faring the best.
The outcome was a diminishing racial inequality over time. The disparity between white and Hispanic women has narrowed in recent years.
Unfortunately, the study discovered that the death rate for Black women remained nearly twice as high.
They should be proud of their accomplishments, but there is still more work to be done, according to senior researcher Robert Hines, an associate professor at the University of Central Florida College of Medicine in Orlando.
He believes that simply being Black should not be a risk factor for breast cancer mortality.
Why do Black women continue to have a worse breast cancer prognosis?
According to Hines, the study points to many significant variables, including the fact that black women are diagnosed at a later stage and are less likely than white women to get surgery, radiation, or hormone treatment.
According to the study, these characteristics, together with poverty, a lack of insurance, and the aggressiveness of the illness, appeared to explain a large portion of the death rate gap between Black women and white women.
The racial disparity in breast cancer death rates in the United States has long been known, and attempts have been made to address it. According to Dr. Ahmedin Jemal, a senior vice president of the American Cancer Society in Atlanta, these efforts can explain some of the improvements over time.
According to Jemal, who researches cancer inequalities, the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program, which is funded by the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control, has contributed to an increase in mammography use among Black women.
In addition, in 2000, Congress approved legislation ensuring that low-income women identified under that program may obtain treatment through their state Medicaid program.
However, according to Jemal, a lack of insurance remains a barrier for Black women.
According to him, the difference persists primarily because Black women are more likely to be uninsured or underinsured. When compared to white women, they are less likely to obtain timely and high-quality care.
While Medicaid coverage is available, programs differ by the state in terms of who qualifies and what is covered. According to Jemal, access to Medicaid may continue to be a barrier.
The findings, which were published on July 1 in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention, are based on more than 250,000 Florida women who were diagnosed with breast cancer between 1990 and 2015.
Regardless of race, the chance of dying within 10 years of diagnosis has decreased with time: The 10-year mortality rate among white women fell from slightly about 21% in the early 1990s to 14% between 2010 and 2015.
According to the study, this percentage decreased from 36% to 26% among Black women.
As per Hines, over the years, efforts to close the mortality gap have primarily centered on expanding access to mammography screening. That makes logical, he says, because earlier diagnosis should mean a greater chance of survival.
However, he warns that following the screening, women may encounter further challenges, particularly if they are low-income. Delays in initiating therapy, keeping with it, and continuing with long-term follow-up are among them.
More study, according to Hines, is needed to determine the exact reasons why Black women continue to have a higher mortality rate from breast cancer.
Although the study was conducted in Florida, Hines stated that the general pattern — a shrinking but continuing racial difference — is consistent with what has been observed nationwide in recent years.
And, he believes, many of the same characteristics associated with the discrepancy in this study are likely to be present in other states as well.