Health

National womens health network fact sheet: breast cancer and African American women

Incidence:

The breast cancer incidence for African American women is lower than White women, and higher than Latinos. In any one year, 95 out of every 100,000 African American women are diagnosed with breast cancer. In comparison, 112 out of every… Incidence:

The breast cancer incidence for African American women is lower than White women, and higher than Latinos. In any one year, 95 out of every 100,000 African American women are diagnosed with breast cancer. In comparison, 112 out of every 100,000 White women, and 70 out of every 100,000 Latinos are diagnosed with breast cancer. (1) However, up to age 40 African Americans have a higher incidence than Whites. (2)

Mortality:

Like the overall U.S. population, the site with the second highest cancer mortality rate for African American women is the breast. The leading cancer killer among women is lung cancer. (3)

The breast cancer mortality rate for African American women is higher than for White women and Latinos. In any one year, 31 out of every 100,000 African American women die of breast cancer. In comparison, 27 out of every 100,000 White women, and 15 out of every 100,000 Latinos die of breast cancer. (1)

Between 1989 and 1992 there was approximately a 5% decrease in mortality rates for White women with breast cancer, but approximately a 2% increase for African American women.(4)

Survival:

The five-year breast cancer survival rate for African American women is lower than for White women and Latinos. The five-year survival is 69% for African Americans, 84% for White women, and 70% for Latinas. (1)

There are several reasons for the lower survival rate in African American women:

1.) Late diagnosis; i.e. African American women are more likely to be diagnosed after the cancer has spread.(5)

2.) Poverty; i.e. low income cancer patients are less likely to survive, even when diagnosed early.(5,6,7)

3.) Under-treatment; African American women are less likely than White women to receive appropriate treatment. According to a study in the American Journal of Public Health, in younger as well as older patients, and in earlier as well as later stages, African American patients were more likely than White patients to be untreated and to be treated by non-surgical methods.(7)

4.) Cancer nature; A recent study found that the actual tumor cells in African American women grow more rapidly, leading to more aggressive cancers at an earlier age. The differences seen in this study also led to breast cancer that was less responsive to hormone treatment.(8)

Further Considerations:

Mammography rates for African American women are lower than White women and Latinos, but are increasing steadily.(1) Several barriers to getting mammograms exist for African Americans such as office visit and screening procedure costs, physicians' failure to discuss mammography with women, misconceptions that screening is unnecessary, and/or lack of health insurance.(5) The biggest unmet need for African American women is early recognition of the disease.

There are many unanswered questions concerning African American women and breast cancer. Why is it more common in younger women? Do the reasons above fully explain the worse survival rate? Further research in this population is necessary to answer these questions. In addition, there must be increased access to appropriate prevention, detection, and treatments for African American women.

Advocacy Groups:

National Black Women's Health Project600 Pennsylvania Ave, S.E. Suite. 310Washington DC, 20003(202) 543-9311A national grassroots advocacy organization with local chapters and self-help groups. African American Breast Cancer AllianceP.O. Box 8981Minneapolis, MN 55408(612) 644-1224A member supported advocacy and support group for women with breast cancer. Includes regional and national networks.

NWHN Fact Sheets may be reprinted for educational purposes only. Please credit NWHN when reprinting.

March 17, 2003
ABOUT INSIGHT NEWS
The Journal For Community News, Business and The Arts serving the African American community in Minneapolis-St.Paul. Available on news stands and online at insightnews.com.
INSIGHT NEWS

1815 Bryant Ave N, Minneapolis, MN 55411
insightnews.com
(612) 588-1313

ADVERTISING

Download our Media Kit (PDF file, requires Adobe Acrobat Reader)

Newspaper Deadlines
-Classified: Ad inquiries due one week prior to run date Wednesday
-Display: Space reservation due one week prior to run date and material due Wednesday the week prior to run date.
-Insight News print edition is published weekly on Mondays

For more information call: 612.588.1313

CONVERSATiONS W/ AL MCFARLANE