Among women in the United States, breast cancer ranks as the second most prevalent cancer. However, some women are at greater risk of developing breast cancer or dying from the disease. Keep reading to learn some facts about this health inequity as well as some underlying causes contributing to this phenomenon.
- Diagnosis. Hispanic and African American women are more likely to be diagnosed with late stage breast cancer. This can be due to limited healthcare access. For example, Hispanics in the U.S. have the highest uninsured rates, which may delay the opportunity for seeking care.
- Cancer type. African American women are more likely to have triple negative breast cancer, a more aggressive form of the disease. Some studies suggest this may be due to the fact that African American women are more likely to be obese, however more research is needed to determine the exact causes.
- Mortality. Black women have higher rates of mortality in comparison to white women.1 The reasons behind this may be multifaceted. Black and Hispaniac women alike are less likely to receive care according to the standard guidelines in comparison to white women.2 Furthermore, the historical exclusion of minority groups in clinical trials contributes to the lack of tailored cancer treatment for diverse racial and ethnic groups.
- Screening. Women with lower incomes and lower educational attainment have lower rates of breast cancer screening. This may be attributed to several factors, including lack of insurance, lack of screening guidance and recommendations from providers, and challenges in scheduling screening appointments.
Unfortunately, breast cancer does not impact all women the same. Thus, it is important to make your health a priority and start screening for breast cancer at the appropriate age according to your provider. For those who are underinsured, check out the CDC’s financial assistance program. The last article of this series will give tips for optimal breast health, so stay tuned! In the meantime, schedule an appointment to get started with scheduling your mammogram.
- CDCBreastCancer. Breast Cancer Statistics. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Published November 29, 2022. Accessed September 25, 2023. https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/breast/statistics/index.htm
- Lu Chen, Christopher I. Li; Racial Disparities in Breast Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment by Hormone Receptor and HER2 Status. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 1 November 2015; 24 (11): 1666–1672. https://doi.org/10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-15-0293
- Bureau UC. Census Bureau Releases New Report on Health Insurance by Race and Hispanic Origin. Census.gov. Accessed September 25, 2023. https://www.census.gov/newsroom/press-releases/2022/health-insurance-by-race.html
- Siddharth S, Sharma D. Racial Disparity and Triple-Negative Breast Cancer in African-American Women: A Multifaceted Affair between Obesity, Biology, and Socioeconomic Determinants. Cancers (Basel). 2018;10(12):514. doi:10.3390/cancers10120514
- Mutale F. Inclusion of Racial and Ethnic Minorities in Cancer Clinical Trials: 30 Years After the NIH Revitalization Act, Where Are We?. J Adv Pract Oncol. 2022;13(8):755-757. doi:10.6004/jadpro.2022.13.8.2
- Turbow SD, White MC, Breslau ES, Sabatino SA. Mammography use and breast cancer incidence among older U.S. women. Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2021;188(1):307-316. doi:10.1007/s10549-021-06160-4