Home » For Black women in the U.S., the odds of surviving breast cancer must change

For Black women in the U.S., the odds of surviving breast cancer must change

by The Grio

Along with the “second wave” of feminism, the 1970s marked the start of the breast cancer awareness movement, with several prominent public figures bringing attention to the need for education, scientific research, and support for this disease. Since that time, major strides have been made in the prevention, detection, and treatment of breast cancer, and today, significantly fewer women are dying from the disease. However, these advances have not benefited everyone equally; Black women are 40% more likely to die from breast cancer compared to white women. And the disparity among younger women is even more pronounced: Black women under the age of 50 are twice as likely to die from breast cancer than white women of the same age.

As a physician and scientist — and someone of African descent — I am acutely aware of the devastating impact that breast cancer has on our community. In my over two-and-a-half decades of clinical practice, I am also no stranger to seeing the same disease impacting people differently across races, ethnicities and socioeconomic backgrounds.

I am dedicated not only to addressing health disparities but also to better understanding those who experience them. Who are they? Where do they live? When do they receive the life-changing news that they have cancer? And, when they do find out, how do they navigate the healthcare system to receive appropriate and optimal care?

The unfortunate reality is that Black men and women generally have lower rates of cancer screenings overall. Black women are more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer at an advanced stage, when the disease is more complicated to treat, and are twice as likely to be diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer, an aggressive form that has fewer treatment options. In addition, Black women have the lowest 5-year relative survival rate for every stage of breast cancer at diagnosis. This points to significant gaps in accessing quality care and treatment…

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