CDC: Breast cancer more deadly in black women
November 14th, 2012
06:02 PM ET

CDC: Breast cancer more deadly in black women

While breast cancer is still the most commonly diagnosed form of cancer among American women, the number of patients dying from the disease continues to decline.  That's the good news;  the bad news is that those statistics do not look so good for African-American women.

A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that large gaps between black and white women in terms of mortality and stage of diagnosis continue to persist.

Black women still have a disproportionately higher breast cancer death rate - 41% higher than white women. This finding is based on 2005 to 2009 data, showing that even though African-American women have a lower incidence of breast cancer, they are more likely to die of this disease than women in any other racial or ethnic group.

Diagnosis of breast cancer at more aggressive stages is also more common among black women than white women.  There were nine more deaths among black women for every 100 breast cancers diagnosed compared to white women.

The report says that mammography may be less frequently used among black women than white women, based on self-reported data.  It's also more common for a longer amount of time to pass between mammograms for black women than white women.

Once a woman receives abnormal mammography results, it takes longer for her to get a diagnosis if she's black than if she's white, studies have shown.

The report also points out that black women more commonly have subtypes of tumors that are harder to treat, especially a kind called triple negative breast cancer.

"Further research is needed to determine the etiology of biological characteristics of breast cancer in black women to design effective prevention and treatment strategies," the report said.

This report also points out that African-American women still aren't receiving the same quality of breast cancer treatment as white women typically do.  White women are also more likely to begin treatment within 30 days of diagnosis.

If women of both races received the same treatment, death rates could fall by almost 20%, Dr. Marcus Plescia, Director of the Division of Cancer Prevention and Control at CDC, told reporters Wednesday.

The Affordable Care Act is designed to allow access to health care that wasn't possible for some women before, including mammograms, said Ileana Arias, principal deputy director for the CDC.

This report does have some limitations that it acknowledges:  The study did not verify cause of death.  Race and ethnicity could have been misclassified, and the population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau may have errors.

Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States, and leads to about 40,000 deaths annually among all women.

In general, more research is needed to probe the reasons for such racial disparities and develop interventions that benefit all groups.  More aggressive breast cancer types also require more research in terms of screening and treating them.

soundoff (35 Responses)
  1. fighting4thetatas

    I am so angry right now, I am currently fighting one of the rare breast cancer Inflammatory Breast Cancer, and I asked my onc the question that your article speaks of "If women of both races received the same treatment, will my diagnosis change," I was told I would still die because I am Black. How can you make such statements regarding black women and breast cancer and then come back and make your disclaimers. I am going to die from all reports I have read and every doctor, cancer organization, every researcher because of every thing under the sun even to black women not owning computers. Is this a money thing or what? I would love and will speak to these people. Where are they getting their stats from? Are they just making this up to get paid.

    November 15, 2012 at 09:57 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Lou

      Fighting4thetatas: My sister battled stage 4 IBC six years ago and she is still cancer free. UNC told her she was the only cancer patient there that wasn't anemic. Two years ago I battled Triple Negative Cancer (I'm NOT black or hispanic). So.... give yourself a fighting chance to BEAT YOUR IBC. How? See someone trained in boosting your immune system via accupuncture (needles or via pressure). My sister and I are both needle-phobic, so we saw a highly recommended chiropractor who was trained in this skill. When I told my sister that my Duke oncologist said to me "ALL our cancer patients are anemic at some point, except you. Whatever you're doing – don't stop" – she told me that UNC said the very same thing to her. Two different, highly praised cancer treatment hospitals, said the same thing to her and to me. (I too have been cancer free for a year now). So I told the chiropractor and he told me WHY. He said "your blood needs to be oxygenated in order to best carry nutrients (and the chemo) through your body. You oxygenate your blood when you exercise, which is something you don't have the strength to do when fighting cancer. When I boost your immune system, I'm oxygenating your blood. THAT's why you and your sister never battled anemia and why you both did so much better from the treatments." So, get YOUR immune system boosted (my sister and I went weekly during our chemo treatments). We also had several powerful prayer groups praying for us and that makes a big difference too.

      January 11, 2013 at 13:58 | Report abuse |
    • fighting4thetatas

      Thank you Lou so much for your reply. I will take your advice and will post to let you and the world know how it went. Its amazing how the things that we never thought could help, are the very things that does.

      May 5, 2013 at 10:14 | Report abuse |
  2. churinduh

    This is a good informative article for black women. Coming from a family that has a history of breast cancer, I know the effect it has and it has scared. I'm a Junior in college and I religiously do self breast exams and take precautionary actions. I do believe EVERYONE young, old, black,white,Indian,Hispanic should take preventative measures and get check ups. Trust me cancer does not care about your race or age.

    November 15, 2012 at 16:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Freetoheal

    I think not only race is an issue, I think a lot of woman are discriminated based on their age as well. I am 27 and they found my lumps when I was 26. It has taken me over a year to get into any doctor, not because of my race but because of my age, and the fact that I can't afford my employers insurance ($536 in 2012). As a single mother and having sole custody of my two boys ages 3 and 7 how can treatment not be a concern? I find it sad that doctors are more worried about the money aspect rather than the patient in it all.

    November 15, 2012 at 18:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. GOPtard

    Isn't this "Good" news for the GOP?

    November 16, 2012 at 09:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. fighting4thetatas

    This is not a good article for Black women, this article is still saying Black/African American women do not go to the doctor in time. According to one of the doctors in this article I was told this article was to point out that IF women of both races received the same treatment, death rates could fall. Unfortunately Black women are not receiving the same equal treatment, that is the problem. The stats are wrong and need to be corrected. And yes age is a problem because most in the medical field is under the impression that if you are under 40 you will not have breast cancer and they do not see a need to give you a scan. I can tell you that with Inflammatory Breast Cancer an 11 year old passed as well as a 16 year old. Check us out @ fighting4thetatas.org

    November 16, 2012 at 11:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Shelia

    I was just diagnosed on Nov 10,2012, triple negative. I am a 50 year old African American. My team of doctors have put me thru more tests than I could have imagine, MRI, PET Scan, EKG, various blood work and other tests. I feel that I am getting the best care possible. I am stage 1, my tumor was 1.6cm. I found the tumor myself and my OB/GYN had me take a mammogram (which I do every year) and a sonogram. I had a lumpectomy on 1/10/13., my lymph nodes and margin were free of cancer. I have to get 4 treatments of chemo and six weeks of radiation. Do your research and ask lots of questions, breast cancer.org is a very helpful site. Don't be afraid to ask questions and always get a second opinion.

    January 17, 2013 at 19:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Yep

    Why is everything about Blacks VS Whites,, their shouldn't be a chart.... I really don't believe, when you have cancer, your thinking,,, how many Black, White, Asians, Hispanic or anyone else is going through this.

    February 5, 2013 at 10:31 | Report abuse | Reply
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